Bill Griffin, CEO of Galway Simon Community, has described the 12.7 per cent rise in rents in Galway city as part of a perfect storm affecting people on social welfare who wish to rent property.
The comments come after rent figures published by property website, Daft.ie, revealed that the average cost of rent in the city was €900.
Mr Griffin said, “The rise in rents for this group (12.7 per cent in Galway city ) is exaggerated by rent supplement levels that have been frozen since 2013 thus widening the gap between the income and costs of housing for this group in society. The actual spend on rent supplement has dropped by 40 per cent between 2011 and 2015. The effect of this combination of factors is seen as increasing numbers of people seeking support from the Galway Simon Community increase by 27 per cent in 2015.
At any one time there are circa 30 families in emergency accommodation, hostels, and hotels across the city. Record amounts are being spent by the local authority in providing these emergency responses which don’t offer long term solutions for the people involved.”
Mr Griffin also highlighted the combination of the falling number of houses to rent in the city and the lack of social housing contributing to the problem. “The number of houses available for rent is falling due to banks forcing the sale of property to pay back outstanding loans and landlords leaving council backed schemes such as the rental accommodation scheme. This drop in supply is compounded by the lack of social housing available to this group. There has been no increase in social housing in Galway since 2009.”
In the rest of Galway, there was an eight and half per cent increase in rents compared to the same time last year with the average rent in the county standing at €618.
Mr Griffin added “If you are on Social Welfare or low income you cannot compete on an equal basis in the diminishing rental market. Ninety six per cent of available to rent property is beyond the reach of people on State support.”