Doireann Barrett wakes up in her parents’ house in Tralee and is grateful to have a home, but she yearns for a place of her own.
Doireann, aged 43, has run a food and wellness business but has been hit with serious health issues and has been out of work for the past 10 months. She cannot afford to move into accommodation by herself.
She says: “In 2015, I sold my house in which I had a mortgage on since 2003 because my small family unit had the opportunity to move to Australia and we had accommodation and job opportunities secured.
"But the week I handed the keys to the new owner, I got the very bad news that my health condition had dramatically declined.”
The family remained in Ireland and Doireann says her relationship broke down, resulting in a one-income household while her son was growing up.
With the cost of living starting to increase, Doireann moved back in with her parents in Tralee last January and has remained there since — after having moved out of home 23 years ago.
“I had major surgery in August so I haven't worked since December 2021 due to long surgery waiting lists and my health was declining rapidly while I waited.”
Doireann’s outgoings include health insurance, which she needs to cover specialists and scans.
She has to factor in travel expenses for medical appointments in Dublin, which can include having to stay overnight in the capital.
“My social welfare illness entitlements were deducted by €100 per month because I'm staying with family, even though I still have to pay for living costs and medical appointments.
"I have been living off €836 per month, so it is way below the living costs for genuine people in receipt of social welfare.”
She says health costs and her inability to work because of her health made it impossible to afford a new mortgage.
Budget 2023 includes an extension of two years to the Help to Buy Scheme for first-timers but Doireann is outside its remit.
She feels that mortgage schemes are focused on couples: “There are many single independent individuals who do not want to share a mortgage and get penalised for our single income.
"If I was to go for a mortgage now again after eight years of being unwell while contributing as a sole trader, my deposit would need to be approximately €50k to be able to get a mortgage, yet I am expected to pay €1,000 upwards in rent.”
She is currently looking for somewhere to rent.
She welcomes the introduction of a vacant property tax, believing that there are too many commercial and domestic properties unused “when it could alleviate the homeless crisis”.