COPE Galway has asked that the people of Galway do not forget the plight of people who are homeless and without a place to call home as we continue to live with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the night of the Spring Equinox, COPE Galway accommodated 171 adults and 168 children in emergency accommodation. COPE Galway’s most recent ‘point in time snapshot’ census on March 21 reports that, of this total, 79 single people and 65 families were accommodated across a range of COPE Galway operated emergency accommodation hostels, a Family Hub, own door self-contained units for families and placements in private emergency accommodation in the form of B&Bs. On that date a further 40 single people were accommodated by COPE Galway in a range of transitional community based shared houses in Galway.
In addition, the Rent Index produced by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB ) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI ) has detailed that the standardised rent for Quarter 4 of 2020 in Galway City was €1,166, representing a 2% increase on this time last year. Galway County experienced a 5% increase on the same period, with the figure standing at €1,106.
“Both sets of figures are going in the wrong direction and are not unrelated,” says Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway. “We are particularly concerned about the growing number of single people who are relying on emergency accommodation here in Galway, many for extended periods of time.
'Rent levels beyond what many can afford'
“This is in part down to the fact that rent levels are beyond what many can afford. Fortunately we have seen a drop in the numbers of families in emergency accommodation but are concerned that when the current moratorium of evictions ceases, those on notices to quit from the private rental sector and who are desperately trying to rent new homes simply won’t be able to afford do so”
‘We continue to call for additional social housing as the most important response to this situation but there is a question mark over how Government plans to meet their ambitious build target for 2021’ said Mr. O’Connor.
“The 2021 national target for housing delivery through building is 9,500. This is part of the overall 2016 to 2021 target at 34,210 of which 22,977 have been delivered’ explained Mr. O’Connor. ‘While it is clear that the overall five year target won’t be met it is vital that this year’s target is achieved.”
Slowdown in house building
In Galway City, 198 new-build social housing units were completed in 2020 while 115 were delivered in Galway County.
The ambitious targets set by Government of delivering 15,000 private rented tenancies though the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP ) scheme, while welcomed by COPE Galway, will be very difficult to achieve, according to Mr. O’Connor.
“The slowdown in house building combined with a reported increase in the purchase price of homes and increases in rent levels all point to a shortage of units. We know from experience that this type of scenario results in an increase in homelessness – a situation we do not want to see worsen in Galway.”