Evictions in the Dublin suburb of Tyrrelstown are poised to spread throughout the country, a parliamentary watchdog has been warned.
Heartbroken residents say they were ordered to leave their rented homes in February after vulture fund investors called in debts owed by the landlords.
They have told TDs on a special Dail committee investigating the housing crisis that they are only the first of many more.
Funke Toban, spokeswoman for around 40 residents, said they have nowhere to go and are facing homelessness because they cannot find other homes in the area at a reasonable rent.
“We are appealing to the government to find a solution to this problem – to come to our rescue from the hands of the vulture funds,” she told the Dail’s special Committee on Housing and Homelessness.
“It is Tyrrelstown today – we don’t know which community is going to be next.”
Ms Toban, who has three children, one with special needs, said alternative accommodation in the area where her children go to school is impossible to come by because of the housing shortage.
Waiting lists for social housing are up to 10 years long, she told the committee.
“We don’t have any chance at all,” she said.
She believes the homes could be bought by the government and sold to the residents under an affordable mortgage scheme.
Ms Toban pays 1,450 euro a month for her three-bedroom home – up from 1,350 euro last year.
Neighbour Gillian Murphy, also a mother of three with an autistic child, said she has been told if she leaves the area she will have to join a years-long waiting list to get her son special needs help.
“We are having sleepless nights, we are mentally worn out,” she told the committee.
Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin agreed that Tyrrelstown was just the tip of the iceberg.
Some 40,000 mortgages have been bought by short-term investors – known as vulture funds – who will “sell them when it suits them”, he said.
“In a very short period of time we are going to be seeing right across the State far more situations like Tyrrelstown,” he added.
Mr O Broin said hundreds of thousands could be facing homelessness.
He has suggested the State facilitate the homes being purchased.