The latest figures released last week by the Department of Housing for April showed a fourfold increase in the number of families in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland compared to April 2017. There was a 60% increase in the number of adults in emergency accommodation over the same period.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said that the charity is now extremely concerned about the very significant increases in these numbers. She said that it is difficult to see how the situation will improve in the near future given the pressures on housing supply in the city.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, has set a target for Galway City Council to deliver 399 new social homes by the end of 2018. The targets include 96 new social builds, nearly 14 times the seven social housing builds that were delivered in 2017.
The majority of the social homes (63% ) to be delivered in 2018 are to come through HAP and RAS tenancies from the private rented sector. However, research conducted by the Simon Communities consistently shows that there are no properties available for rent in Galway within the HAP limits.
“When Galway Simon Community and COPE met with Minister Murphy back in April, we put it to him that the level of new social housing coming on stream is very low, given the scale of the Homelessness and Housing crisis in the city. He has since written to Galway City Council asking them to deliver 399 social housing units by the end of the year,” said Ms Golden.
“However, we are extremely concerned about the challenge faced by the local authority in delivering these targets given the pace of new builds so far this year and the over-reliance on the private rented sector to deliver the majority of this target.”
“Month after month, the situation is worsening. There are now 59 more families and 109 more adults in emergency accommodation compared to April last year. The reality of the situation is that emergency accommodation is becoming longer-term accommodation for many.
“Clients in our services, who are quite literally at breaking point, have virtually no move on options. With such a small delivery of social housing and rent increases of 12.4 per cent in Galway City last year, it’s very difficult to see how the targets set by the Minister are going to be reached.
“It’s an extremely competitive market for housing at the moment and our work is becoming increasingly difficult because of the dwindling housing supply. Trying to find affordable accommodation is almost like the lottery. Unfortunately the ones who are getting locked out of the market are the real people behind these statistics; many of whom are experiencing or at risk of homelessness,”