Some 10,000 men, women, and children are waiting for a home in Galway city, with some families enduring waits of up to 11 or 12 years for a two bed-roomed house.
This is the view of Independent city councillor Catherine Connolly who was reacting to the Galway City Council’s latest quarterly housing report which was debated at Monday’s council meeting.
The report confirmed that the numbers on the waiting list remain at 3,593 households, including 159 applicants from the county area. Of these, 2,799 households are waiting for two bedroomed accommodation; 554 households are waiting on the three bedroomed list; and 240 households on the four bed-roomed list.
However Cllr Connolly said underneath the official figures lie a much more troubling reality that this is not 3,593 individuals, bur families, waiting for a home. At a conservative estimate therefore, Cllr Connolly has calculated that there are some 10,000 men, women, and children waiting for a home in Galway city, and that some are waiting for 11 or 12 years for a two bed-roomed house.
Meanwhile 75 local authority houses remain empty for periods up to seven years. “Not only are the empty houses reducing the amenity of residential areas but the council are at the loss of thousands of euro in rental income,” Cllr Connolly said.
She also pointed out that the overall figure also does not include 133 housing applications where a decision has not been made yet.
Cllr Connolly is calling on the city manager Brendan McGrath to deal with the “scandalous situation”, and to take a “hands on” approach to the matter.
The Galway City West councillor also said the entire situation has been made worse under regulations introduced by the Fine Gael/Labour Government in 2011.
“The numbers on the housing waiting list do not include any family that has accepted a house under the Rental Accommodation Scheme and/or the long term private leasing scheme,” she said. “I am seeking precise information on how many households have been removed from the waiting list because of this regulation.”
She further alleged that City Hall has “abandoned any commitment to social housing”, due to Government regulation and scrutiny and that this has left the local authority “utterly reliant on the open market for the provision of social housing”.
Cllr Connolly said this is no more than the Government giving “a huge financial boost and assistance to the private rental sector” while artificially keeping the rents high in the city.
“This approach has very serious implications for tenants rights, who in contrast to local authority housing tenants, have no security of tenure and no opportunity to purchase their own home,” she said.
Cllr Connolly said what is needed for Galway’s housing crisis is a Government stimulus for the construction industry “with appropriate spin offs for the local economy with a planned social housing programme including co-operative housing”.