‘This is what homelessness looks like today’

October 19th, 2021 11:40 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Ruby says she has been effectively homeless for the past two years. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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A YOUNG art student, who is desperately seeking a permanent home for herself and her mother, has decided to go public about being homeless in Kinsale.

Ruby Rose Kingston Parker (19), says she has been effectively homeless for the last two years, and for the second time in her life.

The home she is currently sharing with her mother has now been marked for demolition, and there is nothing else available to rent in the wealthy coastal town. ‘I have been trying to live like a normal teenager for these two years,’ she told The Southern Star,  ‘and previously in 2015 when I was homeless also. But my circumstances are far from normal.’

Ruby, a student of Limerick School of Art and Design, says it’s ironic that her student accommodation is so much more secure and comfortable than the home she is sharing with her mother, Rosita, in Kinsale.

After a comfortable life in Seattle in the US, Ruby’s artist parents, and her wheelchair-bound sister Lucy, moved back to Ireland when the girls were small, and decided to rent a home before buying.

But the property market in Kinsale and surrounds sky-rocketed and the family were left renting long-term.

‘Growing up we always moved a lot as my parents rented houses, so when the landlord needed the house for whatever reason, we had to move. I have lived in 10 different houses so far in my life,’ Ruby explained.

‘The first time I experienced homelessness was in 2015. I was 13 and my mother, father and I had to move in with family. We were nine people living in a three-bedroom bungalow. More recently, in 2019, my mother and I found ourselves in a similar situation, and had to move in with my uncle and cousin in their house.’

Ruby and Rosita lived there for over a year, and had to move again.

‘Now my mother and I are staying in a derelict house scheduled for demolition in the coming months. There are holes in the ceiling, windows with no glass, and the walls are, quite literally, crumbling,’ she said.

‘This year I was accepted to study at Limerick School of Art and Design. I received a Susi grant which covered my rent allowances, so I can afford to stay in college accommodation. But, unlike most other students here, I have no “home” to come back to at weekends,’ said Ruby.

‘We are on the County Council housing list, and have been for a number of years, but to no avail. Recently houses have come up in Kinsale and I have been doing my best to put forward a case for us to be in with a chance.’

Ruby says she terms herself and her mum “the unexpected homeless”.

‘Nobody would think, by looking at me, or my life, that I am in fact without a home. People have an idea in their heads of what homelessness looks like.’

She says she is going public now because people need to see what homeless people look like today. ‘I think more attention needs to be brought to this issue. And yes, of course, homeless is people sleeping on the city streets, in shelters or begging, but now it’s also people like me, who just happen to not have a home.’

She added: ‘I’ve spent the last few years of my life constantly carrying around bags of my stuff, going from place to place, that lack of security pays a toll on your mental and physical state.’

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