No place to call home for Irish students in New York this summer


Condron said they don’t really feel safe in the area. “There is a drug rehab center right next to the house and there are a lot of dodgy characters going in and out at all hours of the night,” he said.

Little did Condron and the boys know that Wednesday was going to be their lucky day – well, sort of!

Last Wednesday they took a half day from their maintenance jobs -- the three friends work in an apartment building in the city for $500 each a week doing odds and ends jobs -- to find a better place to stay for the remainder of the summer.

After hours of searching the Internet for accommodation and sharing their story with Maura Jordan at the front desk of the Aisling Center, the center staff introduced the boys to four lovely ladies from Co. Mayo -- Niamh Healy, 19, Denise Gallagher, 19, Aislinn Farrington, 19 and Meave Rattigan, 19.

Luckily for the boys, the girls, who were at the center looking for jobs, needed to rent out a room in a house they sub-letted for the summer in Yonkers. A perfect match was created.

After informal introductions, the Clare boys, with big smiles, took the next bus back down to Harlem, packed their bags and were back up in Yonkers within two hours.

“This is just great altogether,” said Condron, with one leg out the door of the center.   “We never thought we would get that lucky.”

However, it turned out the accommodation is only available to the boys until the end of June, so Condron contacted the Irish Voice on Monday to let us know they are still in the market for a one bedroom apartment come July.

“We just need somewhere for six or seven weeks because the girls have other people coming over, so hopefully someone will have something they can rent to us for that short time,” said Condron.

“We are very clean lads and very respectful to others, so we won’t be noisy or anything like that. Basically we would be good tenants,” he added.

Said Lawlor, “I really think that those few students last year who wrecked some of the places they stayed in have spoiled our chances of getting a decent place to stay for the summer.”

The girls, all friends from Co. Mayo, have had no luck finding jobs. Similar to the three boys from Cork, they have handed in resumes and filled out numerous application forms for several jobs, but to no avail.

Farrington, a law student at the University of Limerick, arrived in New York at the end of May but has still not found a job.

“I had a few waitressing interviews and an interview in Zara (clothes store) but nothing back yet,” said Farrington.

Like Farrington, the other three girls have found themselves with a lovely apartment, but no job to pay the rent.

“We need to get jobs soon or we are going to run out of money,” laughs Healy, a second year student teacher in Dublin.

The girls, who are having the time of their life in New York, were putting a new plan together for Thursday in search for a job.

“We will probably head upstate tomorrow because the city is not giving us anything,” adds Gallagher.

Michael O’Connor was alone when he entered the Aisling Center on Wednesday. O’Connor, 20, is from Co. Galway and is studying for an accounting degree in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

O’Connor arrived in New York with a friend on May 31. So far his J-1 experience has been lonely.

“I really want to meet other J-1 students,” said O’Connor, who has been busy trying to find a job he is happy with and a place to live.

Up until last Wednesday, O’Connor and his friend have been staying with a friend of a friend. Not an ideal situation. He feels they are intruding and came to the Aisling Center on Wednesday in search of a room for rent. He soon learned that he had to get in line.

O’Connor is presently training as a waiter in a bar in White Plains in Westchester.

“To be honest I’d prefer to be a laborer or furniture remover or something like that, you know, a nine to five job, but so far I’ve had no luck with anything in that area,” he said.

O’Connor was initially hoping to have a summer of fun in Long Island, but after being rejected for a job New York was next on his agenda. So far he is questioning if he made the right decision.

“Me and Frankie (his friend) really need to get somewhere to live soon. We are imposing on the person we are staying with and he has family coming from Ireland,” said O’Connor urgently.

O’Connor, who came to the U.S. with $1,500, said he was sensible with his money and would be able to pay a deposit and rent if somewhere becomes available.

If accommodation doesn’t present itself in the next few weeks O’Connor and his friend may be forced to back to Ireland for the remainder of the summer.