A man in his 50s has been forced to live in a tent in the woods in Wicklow since he lost his job after having a heart attack.
After 57-year-old Paul King first fell ill in December 2022, he was let go from his job after five years, which also provided him with accommodation – leaving him financially vulnerable and homeless.
Since then, Mr King has been unable to find housing that will accept him paying with the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), and he has resorted to sleeping in a wooded area in Laragh, Wicklow.
For the past eight weeks, Mr King has slept under a plastic sheeting in a sleeping bag.
On Lunchtime Live, Mr King said the shelter is made from a rope tied to two trees, with a sheet of heavy-duty plastic over it that is not enclosed.
"I was in with my doctor last week and he's going mental," he said.
"He's ringing everybody over it because he reckons if I keep going on the way I'm going to have another heart attack."
Mr King's living situation – coupled with his ill health after having two shunts in his heart – has meant he is suffering from depression.
"My doctor wrote a letter to the council, stipulating I should be housed straightaway because of my condition," he said.
"There's nobody responding to me and it just feels like a no-win situation."
Mr King said he has to walk every day to keep his mental health in order – sometimes up to 18km a day.
"Some nights I don't sleep, I just go walking," he said.
Mr King said the local community have banded together to help him.
"I wouldn't be still here only for them," he said.
"There are vacant properties in Roundwood, Rathdrum, Newtown – the whole lot.'"
As the colder weather nears closer, Mr King said he is just going to "get on with it" as he feels safer in the woods than in homeless shelters.
"You just have to adapt to the weather, you have no choice," he said.
"They won't give you emergency accommodation, they say they have none.
"The homeless hostels, I'm safer where I am – at least I have people around me that I know and if anything happens to me, they'll be there for me."
Mr King said he believes Wicklow Council will only pay attention to him if something happens to him.
"That's always the way with the Council and TDs, it's after the fact when something happens somebody – then they rally," he said.
"I just have to get on with it – plain and simple.
"I'll just stay, if something happens to me, the Council will pay the consequences."
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