Mother begs the council for help

by Aisling Kennedy
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A single mother from Ballyfermot who has two children, one of whom has autism, has been waiting for funding from Dublin City Council for nine years to build an extra bedroom onto her house in Ballyfermot.
Sonya Byrne, from Claddagh Road in Ballyfermot, is mother to her 20-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son and the family have been living in the same two bedroom house for 16 years.
Byrne spoke to the Gazette and said that currently her two children share a single bedroom in the house and the room is so small that they have to sleep in bunk beds.
She explained: “I first applied for the grant in 2007 and I was told back then that there was 60 extensions being built per year. I then spoke to the council in March 2008 and I was told I was number 170 on the list of people waiting for extensions. The years went on and then I was told that the money to build extensions was no longer there.”
Byrne said that at the time of applying for the grant she was also told to put her name down on the social housing waiting list to apply for a transfer to a three bedroom house as an alternative.
She eventually did put her name on the social housing waiting list even though she didn’t want to move house but said: “At that stage, I was down to the bottom of another list after waiting so many years.”
Byrne is a single mother to her children after her partner passed away a number of years ago. She also suffered from cancer for the last few years and is only getting back on her feet now.
“I’m currently putting my daughter through college and at this stage now, my son who has autism is regressing and I have him in a special school. He sits in the hall playing because I have no room for him, there’s no room for him in this house to play. He needs his own room at this stage, he needed it years ago.
“Nobody cares in the council, but all I know is I’m not giving up.”
In response a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said: “They do not comment on individual cases”
Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF), Chair of DCC Housing SPC, spoke to the Gazette and said the funding the DCC receive from the Department of Environment for overcrowding is “wholly inadequate.”
He said: “The funding simply doesn’t meet the needs of the city at all. There are people who are living in unacceptable overcrowded conditions who have received no funding towards extensions since 2008.
“The reason for this is because the money provided from DoE has been cut since 2009 and because there are people with disabilities and medical needs on the list for extensions, DCC give it to the people in most need first.”
Cllr Doolan said the DoE should “wake up to the reality in Dublin” and added: “If more funding was allocated, it would take people off the housing list, it would allow people to stay in the family home and would save money that otherwise would have to be spent on home building.”
In response the Department of Environment said: “The Department of Environment, Community & Local Government does provide funding to local authorities in respect of social housing adaptations and extensions to address serious overcrowding and to meet the needs of tenants with a disability.”

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