More than 300 people have had to go onto Rent Supplement in Galway since March, when the Covid-19 lockdown came into effect - one of the highest rates in the entire State.
The figures come from the Department for Housing, and were released following a request from Social Democrats TD, Cian O'Callaghan.
The exact breakdown of the figures show 335 rent supplement cases have been allocated since March 13, with a backlog of 122 applicants still to be processed. "These figures represent more than 400 families and individuals in Galway," said Social Democrats Galway City East councillor, Owen Hanley, "that during lockdown needed support to pay their rent. More than 100 are still awaiting that support. This is a poor bandage over an insufficient system."
The figures also show there was an increase of 153 per cent of adults accessing homeless services through emergency accommodation, revealing the West Region as having the highest increase of any in the State over the past three years.
'Quality, affordable, apartments in Galway for single, couple, and family units is a vital aspect to addressing the housing crisis' - Cllr Owen Hanley
"Year after year hundreds of millions of public money is going to private landlords, and at the end of the year, the State has to start all over again while more and more families are falling through the cracks," Cllr Hanley said. "During the Covid-19 lockdown a mortuorum on evictions was put in place as well as a rent freeze. It's a sad state of affairs that it took a pandemic for us to respond to the housing crisis."
'Deficient apartment supply' in Galway
Cllr Hanley believes the lack of the West of Ireland's "deficient apartment supply" is contributing to housing pressures creating a crisis. He said delivering "quality, affordable, apartments" in Galway for single, couple, and family units is a "vital aspect to addressing the housing crisis".
He said the delivery of social, affordable, and rental accommodation "cannot be de-prioritised" due to the pandemic which is "exacerbating the problem" by resulting in unemployment, "particularly for those on the lower end of our low wage economy".
Cllr Hanley welcomed the Galway City Council's plans for rejuvenation projects, including on the Sandy Road and the Dyke Road, which will see "the delivery of substantial amounts of public housing on public land". He also called on the new Government to continue the rent increase freeze.