With latest figures revealing the shocking extent of the homeless crisis in Dublin, one local based man is doing all he can to help assist anyone already homeless or in danger of losing their home.
Having successfully fought and won his own case against a landlord, Patrick Nelis decided to lend his experience to others who maybe going through the same struggles he found himself in.
Originally from Tyrone but now living in Tallaght, Patrick started advocating for and supporting tenants in cases with both landlords and the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board).
After winning many of these cases too, he has now decided to set up a group here in Tallaght and last week he held his first clinic.
The Housing Crisis Community Support Group meets every Tuesday from 11am to 1pm in Tallaght Adventure World and this week InTallaght met up with Patrick at the latest clinic to find out more…
Could you tell our readers exactly who the Housing Crisis Support Group are and what you do? It’s a new group which advocates for and supports people experiencing homelessness and all other housing issues launched last week in Tallaght.
We’re linked in with North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis Community, it’s the same group but we’re branching out now to Tallaght. They do clinics every Friday in Coolock so I’ve started doing them here in Tallaght, I had first one last week.
All meetings are done strictly in private rooms, nobody has to discuss anything out in the open in front of other tenants, everything is done one to one.
We will discuss the issues the tenant is dealing with and if we can help them we’ll help them or client guide them.
Sometimes we mightn’t be able to take the RTB’s case because of one reason or another but we’ll always do the statement for the client and tell them what to do in the RTB.
If we can take the case we’ll take it, sometimes it’s impossible with the amount of cases we’re getting in, we are a support group.
We’ll even help the council tenants if any of them are having trouble with SDCC we will be an approved housing body in January and the council will have to listen to us.
Do you offer help to all types of tenants? Yes we do, this group is for any tenant, council or private, or people in emergency accommodation who are looking for assistance.
We have a good link with Focus Ireland and we can get people a key worker in this area.
Focus Ireland are very stretched at the minute as well. We do a lot of private rental that go to the RTB.
Come to us, chat to us, we will guide you, we’ll talk to the council on your behalf.
People are forgetting about the council as well because in a lot of cases the council only have to answer to themselves I know they have an independent in the council but they rarely go against the council the council tenants if they have an agreement with the council can’t go anywhere.
I know some groups out there that won’t go near council and I think that is wrong. There should be equality and equal rights everybody should be treated the same and if we had enough social housing we wouldn’t have problems with the council. Everyone is welcome here, it’s all confidential, nobody will know your business.
What is your own background in the area of housing? I have a lot of experience doing RTB cases and recently did a few big cases with the council which were successful for the tenants. I also successfully fought an unfair eviction against my own landlord and it was that experience that made we want to try and help other people in what can be a terrifying situation.
How can you help people that are already homeless? I also help link people into secure emergency accommodation. The “Self Accommodate” system is shocking. Some people are given a list of phone numbers of hotels to ring so basically they’re running around with their children all day looking for somewhere to stay for the night. “Self Accommodate” should be done away with because they have to be out of that hotel next morning and then start ringing around again. That’s no way for kids to live.
Do you think things can improve next year and homeless figures will start to fall? No I don’t. The Government has abandoned their critical role in ensuring social protection, including affordable housing; they have cut or privatised social benefits; and they have sold out to the private market and have allowed those with access to power and money to dominate the housing market which has resulted in the housing crisis we now have in this country. The Government has taken a series of decisions and actions that create homelessness and allow it to grow unabated. The only answer is social housing but they won’t build it. They have to take stock and realise they’re allowing vulture funds to come into the country and snap up property for nothing and pay no tax.
What I would do if I was a councillor would be to block everything at council level until the Government starts listening. I don’t think the TD’s are doing enough, most of them are landlords so why would they?
They seem to think this problem is going to get better. It’s not, it’s going to get worse. In this day and age nobody should be sleeping on the streets.
It makes me so angry when I hear the ignorance of some people who say that “oh these people on the streets or without a home are druggies, alcoholics, it’s their fault.” Most of the homeless do not have addictions and for the people that do there should be 24 hour services to help them. Everyone is only one pay cheque away from the street.
I’d want to thank Councillor Dermot Richardson for kindly providing the rooms and space here in Tallaght Adventure World for the clinics, he does so much for homeless people and once again he will be feeding the homeless here on Christmas Day.
Housing Crisis Community Support Group weekly clinic takes place in Tallaght Adventure World every Tuesday 11am to 1pm.