A father of four has been forced to sleep in his car through the recent storms after two councils failed to decide who should have responsibility for getting him accommodation.
Kevin Griffith has been reduced to being able to wash just once a week and is living off chocolate bars as he spends his social welfare payment on diesel for his eighteen-year-old vehicle.
The thirty-five-year-old problems stem from the fact he was living in Camross county Laois with his partner when their relationship broke up in March 2021 and he moved into emergency accommodation down there.
Shortly afterwards, he got a job in Navan which lasted until December last year and he was left unable to afford the rent on his flat.
When he approached Meath county council seeking emergency accommodation they told him that as he had no local connections he should apply to Laois again but when he did they told him that as his last address was in Meath he was their problem.
That happened when he had to go through a bizarre process to speak to someone in Laois in the first place.
He told Meath Live, ‘ When the people in Meath said I had to be looked after by Laois I drove to Portlaoise and went up to the council reception area and asked to speak to a certain housing official that I had dealt with before.
‘Incredibly the receptionist insisted I had to ring that official first so went through the ridiculous charade of me standing five yards away from the receptionist and watching her pick up the phone and saying hello to me!
‘To make matters worse the official refused to come down and speak to me face to face despite the fact there was only flight of stairs between us.
‘So I came back up and explained all this to the Meath lot and they still refused to do anything for me.
‘I’ve been left living in the car since the end of January, I cannot afford to eat properly as I have to keep the engine running to keep myself warm, and some nights it has been bloody freezing recently.
‘I go to a mate’s house once a week for a shower and a shave and the whole thing is just so depressing.
‘If I had done something wrong I’d hold my hands up but none of this is my fault and yet because of a silly rule nobody wants to help me.’
Local councillor , Alan Lawes regularly volunteers with homeless aid groups and has blasted both councils for hiding behind a rule that once existed saying people seeking emergency accommodation had to have a connection to the local area they are in.
He said, ’I emailed the housing minister Darragh O’Brien about this and the reply restated what he had said in 2020 which is that local authorities have been told to ensure that local connection issues are not providing a barrier to people getting emergency accommodation.
‘Now this is the top man saying this and yet the CEOs of both councils are still allowing their staff operate the policy.
‘Who is running the show here because it seems to me, the boss’s orders are being ignored.
‘Kevin is caught up in the middle of a silly dispute but officials seem to be forgetting one thing he is a human being and deserves to be treated properly not being shoved to one side because of a rule they know no longer applies.
‘It is time the councils started doing their job properly and stopped hiding behind red tape.’