Irish students arriving to New York find it difficult to find work and accommodation


Summer of Strife for Irish Students
Pic news students
Micheal Hallissey, Pearse Dillon, Eoin O’Connor and Colin McSweeney.

Summertime in New York is proving hot and bothersome in more ways than one for many Irish students seeking work and accommodation. APRIL DREW met up with some of the new arrivals, who shared their frustrations.

 It's that time of the year again. Thousands of Irish students descend upon our neighborhoods in search of jobs, accommodation and a summer filled with memories only New York can provide.

About two weeks ago it became apparent that the Irish students were arriving in their droves. It was, and still is, a common sight to see six to eight young Irish, sporting their county jerseys, pounding the pavements on McLean Avenue in Yonkers and Katonah Avenue in nearby Woodlawn in search for a place to lay their heads for the summer and the possibility of a job.

The Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers and the Emerald Isle Immigration Centers in the Bronx and Queens have been inundated with students seeking assistance in securing a place to stay for the summer and a job to tie them over till September.

The Irish Voice spent Thursday afternoon in the Aisling Center, located on McLean Avenue, witnessing first hand the student foot traffic coming through the center.

The back room of the center was designated for luggage. The ladies were pinks and purples, the men mainly black. Some students were leaving their suitcases with the center staff while they took the train into the city in search of jobs.

Up to Friday the center was in the process of trying to find summer accommodations for over 180 students.  A similar number was being reported in the Emerald Isle offices.

Although a substantial number of the students were still out of work, the main issue was the lack of accommodations available for rental for the summer period.

After spending the morning in New York City searching for work and becoming acquainted with the liveliness of the place, four young Irish men spoke to the Irish Voice about their reasons for coming to New York this summer.

They all sang the same tune -- there is no work in Ireland to tie them over till September when they are due to return to college.
They each paid ***950 ($1,200) for a J-1 visa and a flight to the U.S. and are hopeful to make a bit of money over the summer working in New York that will get them through the forthcoming college year.
Colin McSweeney from Co. Kerry and Eoin O’Connor from Co. Carlow said if they don’t find accommodation in very near future they will have to return to Ireland.
The friends, who are in college at the Limerick Institute of Technology, have been sleeping in the living room of a house in Yonkers with 10 other students and are at their wit’s end.
“We’re lucky to have somewhere at the minute to sleep at night, but we can’t keep it up. We need to get somewhere to rent ourselves or we are going to have to head back to Ireland,” McSweeney said on Thursday.
O’Connor, who used the money he received for his 21st birthday to come to New York added, “it was either stay home with the family for the summer with no work, or come to New York and try to find something.”

On Monday, O’Connor revealed in a text message to the Irish Voice that they are in Queens and Brooklyn searching for rentals, but were still having no luck.

“We will seriously have to go back home if something doesn’t show up in the next few days, “ O’Connor’s text message said.

The Kerry man worked the past few summers on a building site in Ireland to put himself through college, but this year “there are no jobs there,” he added.

The friends are also seeking employment but can’t commit to anything until they have an abode.

Pearse Dillon from Co. Galway is a marketing student at Dublin City University (DCU).  He is one of the lucky ones who had accommodation sorted before he arrived.

The reason he is in New York? “To find a job and have the craic,” he says.

However, Dillon’s worry is that he won’t find employment.

Initially, Dillon’s plans included a summer of football playing with the Roscommon team in New York and then a spot of traveling, but at this stage he isn’t even sure if he can find a job.

“It’s been tough, but I hope I can get something soon,” he said.

His friend, Micheal Hallissey from Co. Kerry, was the lucky one of the group. He has secured a place to stay and was on a promise of a construction job beginning this week.

“I just hope my friends get sorted now,” said Hallissey.

Colm Dalton, 20, and John Grady, 23, both students at Sligo Institute of Technology, are homeless and without jobs.  They spent their first few nights sleeping in a hotel in Yonkers before a friend kindly offered them a couch.

They now spend their time split between the Aisling Center where they leave their luggage, and the couch they have been allowed to sleep on in a two-bedroom/one-bathroom house where 10 others live.