Pleas to protect tenants and prevent a repeat of the Leeside Apartments

Pleas to protect tenants and prevent a repeat of the Leeside Apartments
Announcing the Cork March for Homes on Saturday were Solidarity local election candidate Carol Brogan; Leeside Apartments resident Dorota Okon; Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Gould and president of the Cork Council of Trade Unions Barry Murphy. 

A MOTHER who lived under constant threat of eviction while battling illness has pleaded with the Government to pass laws to protect tenants from homelessness.

Dorota Okan lives with her son and husband at the Leeside Apartments in the city centre, which were bought last week by Cork City Council and housing agency Clúid.

Tenants spent months under threat of eviction from the previous owners of the apartment block, Lugus Capital.

Ms Okon, who suffers from chronic asthma, said her family had nowhere to go if they had been evicted.

She said: “At the moment, I have lots of friends and neighbours who have gone to B&Bs and hostels with children and their lives are devastated.

Leeside Apartments resident Dorota Okon, who is backing a call for Government legislation to ban evicting people into homelessness. [Rob McNamara story]
Leeside Apartments resident Dorota Okon, who is backing a call for Government legislation to ban evicting people into homelessness. [Rob McNamara story]

“The Government should change the law for tenants and stop landlords evicting people because at the moment, they are allowed to do what they like.”

The residents of the Leeside Apartments endured an 18-month saga of tenancy uncertainty after being served with notices to quit in October 2017.

They mounted a public campaign against the evictions, which the landlord said were necessary to facilitate fire safety works and refurbishments.

The apartments on Bachelor’s Quay have now been sold to the Clúid Housing Association and Cork City Council, with existing tenants allowed to stay, and 59 social housing units being provided in a €20m deal.

Ms Okon will be attending the Cork March for Homes in the city centre on Saturday at 2pm.

The demonstration is calling for the Government to bring in laws to ban landlords from evicting tenants into homelessness and to highlight that local authority housing lists are at breaking point.

Ms Okon said residents under threat of eviction, who have little prospect of finding a new home under current rent rates, should organise and fight their case like those at the Leeside Apartments.

“I now know I have a home and I can tell my son ‘don’t worry’, we don’t need to move anymore,” she said.

“We don’t have to live every day with stress and fear. My message to everybody in a similar situation is to not give up hope. The victory of the Leeside residents gives hope to people because people are depressed every day and they are stressed.

“I would support a law that would stop people from being evicted into homelessness,” she added.

The Cork Council of Trade Unions has also thrown its weight behind Saturday’s March.

Barry Murphy, president of the council, said: “We have a Government that have sat idly by for the last five years despite the appalling number of people homeless and those that can’t afford a home.

“There is an over-reliance on the private sector. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work in the future. A local authority-led building programme in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s delivered economic prosperity, decent work, and tens of thousands of jobs in a much poorer Ireland.”

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