Affordable accommodation at a critically low level in Galway

Galway Simon Community says the availability of affordable rented accommodation is at a critical level in Galway. According to the latest study released by the Simon Communities of Ireland, the gap between the Housing Assistance Payments and market rent prices has continued to increase. This latest Simon Communities study further demonstrates that the private rental sector is not suitable for the delivery of social and affordable housing.

The Locked Out of the Market XVI report released this week by the Simon Communities of Ireland, the 16th study of its kind, showed that there was only one property available to rent in Galway City Centre and two properties available in the wider Galway City area that were within the standard HAP limits. An average of 25 properties in Galway City Centre and 54 in the wider Galway City area were available to rent during the snapshot three-day study in December 2019 (10th-12th ).

The study found that monthly rent for one-bed properties available in the wider Galway City area was between €480 and €1000. Rent ranged between €980 and €2,000 for two-bedroom and €1,200 to €2,000 for three-bedroom properties in the wider Galway City area. The majority of asking rents were well above the HAP limits for the respective categories.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the lack of affordable accommodation in the private rental sector is prolonging the housing and homelessness crisis.

“Rent is continuing to increase and with that, so is the gap between rents and HAP limits. Many of the people that we support rely on HAP. The reality is that many tenants in receipt of HAP are having to pay ‘top ups’ to meet their rent.

“Supporting people to source affordable rented accommodation is an important part of the work we do to help prevent individuals and families from entering into emergency accommodation and also to help people to move on from our services into their own accommodation. However, we are finding it extremely difficult to source accommodation that is affordable,” said Ms Golden.

“We support people every day who have had to choose between paying top ups in rent and essential bills like heat, light or food. It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately some people end up paying the ultimate price through involuntarily becoming homeless.

“The rate of new social housing builds in Galway has not been adequate to address the number of people in emergency and homeless services, or on the social housing waiting list, in recent years. We anticipate that more social housing will become available later this year and into 2021, and we look forward to this increased delivery of social housing having a positive impact on the crisis.

“For sustainable long-term solutions, Government commitment to and investment in social and affordable housing across all accommodation types both locally and nationwide is critical. While we await the delivery of new homes, it’s vitally important that we continue to ensure that Prevention Services are supported so that we can prevent as many people as possible from sliding into emergency accommodation”, Ms Golden said.

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