The Waterford group SHARE (Save the Family Home and Restore Esteem) which supports those in mortgage arrears, says the stress of court proceedings is having a major impact on people’s mental and physical health.
Almost 30 home repossession cases appeared before the Court in Waterford this week (Monday 12/2/18.)
The latest figures from the Central Bank which date back to September 2017, showed that the number of Irish people in mortgage arrears continued to decline.
However, there were still over 72 thousand households behind on payments for their family home, and a further 13 thousand buy-to-let holders in arrears.
Vivienne is one of those behind the group SHARE, which provides support and information for those going through court proceedings.
“We are aware of a number of cases of suicide,” she says, “we see people who are ashamed, people who’ve had to have stents due to the pressure, people who have cancer and are attending court. We’ve seen mental health issues because of this.”
Vivienne says that there is a parallel between the issue of home repossession and the campaign for 24/7 cardiac care at University Hospital Waterford.
“The attitude of ‘if it doesn’t affect me, I’m going to do nothing about it’ has to stop. We all know someone who is dealing with this. The shame has to stop.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by SHARE member Seán.
“People are not criminals for not being able to pay their mortgage,” he says, “these are civil cases that are contracts you take on with the bank. If the contract has been broken by either side, there has to be a solution to it.”
“People are going into court with this fear that they’ve committed a crime, but they haven’t, they’re just trying to survive.”