‘I can’t face another winter,’ pleads COPD man living in atrocious conditions

by Rose Barrett
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John Smith (not his real name) is 62 years old, has COPD and multiple health issues, and is currently living in what he describes as ‘intolerable’ conditions in Ballymun. His current accommodation is draughty, damp and impossible to keep warm.

Mould covers his bedroom furniture, even clothing in his wardrobe has developed green fungus and he has ‘mushrooms’ in the kitchen. The 62-year-0ld is pleading with Dublin City Council to rehouse him, anywhere else in Ballymun: “Even a single room, so long as it’s dry and warm,” he said.

“I’m totally alone in terms of family, I was adopted, with no siblings so I’ve no family that I know of,” he told the Gazette. “But I’ve great neighbours here in Burren Court, Poppintree. The people of Ballymun are the salt of the earth so I’d like to stay in the area, if I could.”

John was transferred to the spacious apartment in Ballymun in August 2019 during the hot spell.

“I had been living in an upstairs flat in Sandyhill Gardens also in Ballymun. I asked for a transfer as I had two flights of stairs to climb up.”

John who does not use social media or have a laptop found himself isolated and was delighted when he moved to Burren Court.

“The flat was freshly painted, it looked great and has a small back garden, I was delighted, and I moved in.”

However, this was during the hot spell of August 2019. When winter hit, John discovered the flat was impossible to heat, draughty and costly to keep warm.

“I used to pay a small fee only €5 per week in my last accommodation at Sandyhill, to cover rent but here I’m paying gas for a bigger place. The neighbours warned me that I wouldn’t be able to afford the heating.

“They were right, and during the cold spell, I was frozen. I moved my bed into the sitting room and just lived with the radiator on in that room and the bathroom, the rest was freezing.”

John has since been given a hospital bed from the HSE and he uses a CPap machine at night to breathe.

“I won’t be able to move into the living room again and I’m dreading the cold this winter.”

John stated he opens his windows every day summer and winter but now the mould has spread over the lockers and chest of drawers and worse, on his clothing inside in the wardrobe.

He continued: “There’s green mould everywhere and I’m breathing that in. I’ve mushrooms growing on the kitchen wall literally!”

“About 9 months ago, a gentleman called from the council and said ‘I’ve seen worse, we will put an extra vent in the bedroom wall’ I haven’t heard from him since.

“You have to be two years in a property to apply for a transfer, I’m long past that and I’ve applied for even one room, so long as it’s warm and dry, and in Ballymun.

Deputy Paul McAluiffe (FF) stated: “I am supporting John’s application for a transfer. I have contacted Dublin City Council Housing Maintenance about the dampness and mould in his dwelling on a couple of occasions

“I have also been working with my colleagues in government to increase Local Authorities funding for retrofitting to ensure the sufficient upgrade of Local Authority Housing.”

DCC says it does not deal with maintenance requests via the media and will not discuss specific cases for privacy reasons. The tenant should contact their Local Area Housing Office to discuss his options and they will provide an update on his situation and endeavour to find a solution.

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