Some 3,000 new housing units are needed for Galway city if the current demands for accommodation are to be met, but the Galway City Council is only due to complete 14 houses this year, which is both "minuscule" and "disappointing".
This is the view of Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who has called for "an urgent ramping up" of the housing programme for Galway city, in order that the "critical shortage" of accommodation be addressed.
The TD estimates that around 3,000 new units are needed in the city to meet the current demand. He is calling on the Government to give local authorities "the same autonomy afforded to State agencies" so the need to refer each building scheme to the Department of Housing four times could be negated.
"This would reduce dramatically the amount of time that planning and approvals for new schemes take and would free up officials within the Department to concentrate on key policy areas," he said.
Dep Ó Cuív said the State is in the grip of a "national emergency" and that the current situation is "hugely challenging". However he accused the Fine Gael-led Government of adopting a "laissez faire attitude that the market would provide a solution to the issue", describing that as "completely unacceptable". He also said the number of homes being built by local authorities and private developers is "not enough".
'Families with young children want to be able to provide a stable environment for their children, but the severe housing shortage is resulting in huge uncertainty for them'
While a small number of houses may only be completed by the end of this year, the Galway City Council can point to an active building programme over the coming 12 to 18 months.
More than 220 units of social housing are due to be built in Galway city by 2019, with another 100 planned as part of the overall 1,000 private housing units proposed for Ardaun. At the start of this year, the council was allocated €12.5 million to build 57 new homes in the east of the city - specifically four one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, 26 three-bedroom, and four four-bedroom houses off the Monivea Road, near Rocklands Avenue. This is expected to go to public consultation in September/October. The department has also approved seven two-bedroom homes at a site in Ballybrit, near Ballybrit Court.
More than 70 houses on another site off the old Monivea Road are planned by the city council in a ‘turnkey’ contract with a developer. Work is proposed to begin later this year with completion in 2019. A total of 81 houses on the Headford Road, and another 20 in Renmore, are being built by private developers. The voluntary housing agencies Cluid and Respond are in negotiations to take over on completion next year.
Despite this, some politicians and observers contend that the volume of housing does not go far enough to meet the demand, while the close to 5,000 households currently on the city council's housing waiting list remain without secure or permanent accommodation.
"It is particularly difficult for people on the list who do not know from week to week where they are going to be living," said Dep Ó Cuív. "Families with young children want to be able to provide a stable environment for their children, but the severe housing shortage is resulting in huge uncertainty for them."