At what age do people become homeless? 

Sean’s story reminds us how, unfortunately, finding oneself without a home can happen to anyone when you least expect it. For him, the sound of a door closing behind him made him realize that he had lost everything he had built after years of hard work and sacrifice. Fortunately, a door to a second chance has opened for Sean: a new home from which to watch life go by, and the sun rise and set.

Smiling is my strength

My name is Sean, and my story is like one of many others, suddenly becoming homeless when not expecting it. 

You know, I worked hard my whole life, hoping for a future where I finally could enjoy my retirement.

Little did I know that, at nearly 70 years old, I would find myself in the streets with nowhere to go. Ireland had been experiencing a housing crisis for decades, and, like so many other people, I suddenly found myself without a roof over my head. 

My journey into homelessness began when my landlord evicted me. After searching everywhere for a place I could afford with my retirement money, I realized that I was left with no place to call home. It was when I heard that sound—the slam of the door behind me—that I knew the harsh reality: I was homeless. Being homeless hit me like a storm cloud. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. It really knocked me for six. 

But just before the lockdown in January 2020, I passed by Depaul Ireland’s Back Lane Hostel in Dublin. It brought me hope in my toughest times, a place where I felt welcomed and cared for. I was determined to start over, so I kept busy with classes, took long walks, and wrote many letters to keep my mind off the emptiness left by losing everything.

With the support of Depaul staff and volunteers, I managed to secure a private rented house after a year, regaining the dignity of a home. I was so happy that I hurried back to the hostel to share my joy and thank the people who had been my support during that challenging year, made even harder by the pandemic of COVID-19.

Now, I’m truly content with my new home: I love the little joy of watching the sunrise and sunset in my own garden, and I’m excited about a better future ahead.

I’m deeply grateful for the help I received from Depaul, and I’ve recently joined their befriending program in Dublin, where I want to provide peer support to others in need. This program tries to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place by building meaningful relationships in the community.

I’ve also been accepted into a course on equity and human rights, and I’m certain this is the start of another incredible journey. I want to share my smile, my energy, and my strength with those facing hardships.

I want to be useful, I want to help people in the same way you’ve helped me. I’m so grateful for it.

I want to help my community, and I deeply respect the bravery and strength of not just me, but others in the 13 House Campaign too. Our stories remind us of the pain that needs attention – making sure that everyone, not just a few, can have a dignified life.