UCD student who lived in tent on Belfield campus on brink of returning to homelessness

Faith Khomba (29) completed first year in Social Policy and Sociology while moving from homeless shelters to hostels

When Faith Khomba (29) came to Ireland from Malawi in 2014, she dreamed of pursuing medicine and helping people. Nine years later, she is unable to find a place to rent as she enters the second year of her degree at UCD and is on the brink of returning to homelessness.

Despite spending three months in emergency accommodation in UCD while “desperately searching” for somewhere to live, Ms Khomba is just weeks away from returning to being homeless again. “The issue is finding somewhere to live, I have Hap [housing assistance payment], I also have a grant in UCD. So, I am able to pay for my rent. I cannot find anywhere to take me. Three-and-a-half years I have been homeless it is really affecting me mentally. I can’t sleep at night; all the shadow comes back to you. You just can’t switch off your mind … all the fear and negativity,” she said.

Ms Khomba came to Ireland in 2014 and was housed in direct provision when, in 2016, she survived an aneurysm.

Direct provision

When the direct provision centre she was staying in closed in 2017, she went looking for accommodation of her own, moving from homeless shelters to hostels.


Ms Khomba attempted to further her education while recovering from her illness, doing further education courses and eventually being accepted to the degree at UCD. She completed her first year there while moving from shelters to hostels, often not knowing where she would stay each night. Eventually, Ms Khomba bought a tent and began to sleep rough on UCD’s Belfield campus.

Ms Khomba is unable to find accommodation even though she can pay for it and faces a second year in her tent. She believes that being disabled and an immigrant has a significant impact on her ability to find accommodation and believes she is encountering racism and discrimination. When she phoned landlords and they heard her voice they would say the room was no longer available and had been taken, but when an Irish friend would call the same landlord, they were offered a viewing just minutes later.


Ms Khomba said when she sends emails under her own name she gets no response and that the different treatment she receives makes her feel like a “half-person”.

She had been attending college daily with two suitcases containing all of her belongings, as she had nowhere to keep her clothes.

Ms Khomba has been lucky to receive help from support workers in UCD, saying they were a “shoulder to lean on” and is receiving financial support from the university’s Student Emergency Fund.

“They saw me come to campus with a suitcase and we had a meeting. They suggested me coming and living on campus,” she said. Ms Khomba is now paying to stay in an empty lot in UCD’s student accommodation on a temporary basis during the summer. This emergency housing agreement is up at the end of the month.

“The best thing that has ever happened in my life was coming to UCD, there is great help in UCD. I feel this is my home, this is everything I want in my life,” she said.

But she is afraid that she will not be able to find housing and will not be able to cope with college while homeless again.