The issues that will decide votes: Housing crisis needs to be tackled

The issues that will decide votes: Housing crisis needs to be tackled

Hamp Sirmans searching for a home. Picture: Larry Cummins

The director of a Cork charity has highlighted the rental crisis facing the incoming government and said even people with financial means are struggling to find a home.

Hamp Sirmans has been house-hunting for the past six months in the hope of finding a home to rent for himself and his three children.

Mr Sirmans, originally from South Carolina, US, moved over to Cork eight years ago with his three children, Bethany, aged 16, David, aged 14, and Clara, aged 12, to work.

He is director of the charity Feed Cork but said his lease is up in a month and he and his family are facing homelessness if he can’t find anywhere to live.

Hamp told The Echo he has viewed 40 to 50 properties over the past six months and he put in an offer on most, only to be turned down.

He said the market is so flooded, landlords are cherrypicking tenants and seem to want young couples and professionals over families with children.

He said: “I advocate for people facing homelessness every day through Feed Cork.

“We are geared for helping people that need extra money to stay in their homes.

“My issue, however, is that I have money, a job, and I am willing to pay asking prices, have good references, and still get turned down.”

Mr Sirmans said he tried to source a home locally in Carrigaline to rent but has also viewed properties in Midleton and Ballincollig. 

“I am confident something will turn up, it is just taking a long time,” he said.

He said his situation is indicative of a wider problem ongoing across Cork.

“There is a housing shortage, the Government can do better and they should.

“I don’t have all the answers but I can see that there is a problem.”

Mr Sirmans, who has a property back home in the US which he himself is renting out, said he did not blame the landlords, but added: “You can see that there is a problem, but until there is an incentive to change the system where everyone benefits, I think it will remain a problem.”

Mr Sirman said he is not “very political”, but the issue has made him more understanding and aware of the problems people are facing in society.

“The market needs to be adjusted,” he said.

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