From a mansion in Abu Dhabi to homeless in Dublin

Annette Tobin (64), originally from Howth, Co Dublin, once lived a mansion in Abu Dhabi with six bathrooms.

Following the death of her husband, Noel, last year she ended up homeless in Dublin.

Noel’s career as a specialist welder brought them to the Middle East, Congoand Nigeria over a 20-year period. They returned to Dublin in 1999, opting to rent privately.

In 2013 they moved into a“lovely two-bed apartment” in Killester for which they paid €1,200 a month. Though they had no private pension provision, they had savings and Noel continued working.

Early last year, however, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died in August, aged 63


The money stopped,” says Annette. “We had savings, but by Easter this year I had to go. I was getting just the State pension.”

Rent increase

Asked whether she could get rent allowance, she says her landlord would not accept it and planned to increase the rent. “ My only option was to go homeless.”

She registered at the Dublin homeless person’s unit on Parkgate Street and applied for older person’s social housing.

To avoid sleeping in an emergency hostel, she stayed with her son until emergency housing was available.

“He has three children. He and his wife were very welcoming but there was no space really. I spent two months sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my granddaughter’s bedroom,” she says. “I was on anti-depressants. It was a lot to cope with.”

Annette says the older people’s charity Alone saved her life by providing emergency housing in Ballybough in May. “It was old and hard to heat but I was only there during the summer.”

Studio apartment

She remained on the older person’s housing list with Dublin City Council and was offered a studio apartment in Donnycarney in October, for which €25.40 a week is deducted from her pension.

“I jumped at it,” she says. “It’s lovely. I have my own front door, a walk-in kitchen and a balcony.”

Asked about the contrast between the luxury of her ex-pat life and the experience of losing her husband and home in quick succession, she says she counts herself “so lucky - I was never in a hostel on the streets”.

“I wouldn’t like to be back in the private rented sector again though. I’d be very worried I’d end up in the same situation again.”

Courtesy of the Irish Times