There were 54 households actively seeking independent accommodation in Galway city during just two days last month, but many properties were outside the maximum rent supplement limit, according to COPE Galway who has warned iniatives are urgently needed to avoid the escalation of homelessness.
Welcoming the recently published ‘Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness’, COPE Galway has this week released figures which show that on May 14 only one property out of 24 one-beds (advertised on Daft.ie ) was within the maximum rent supplement cap level of €475 per month for a single person. Just three out of 67 three-bedroom properties were within the maximum rent cap level of €725 per month for a one or two parent family with two children.
COPE Galway say this has a “very real impact” on many families and individuals adding that one young mother lost her private rented accommodation as a result of a receiver sale of that property.
According to COPE Galway, despite a lengthy notice period that had been given during which “every last effort” was made to find alternative accommodation, the woman and her children ended up in emergency accommodation. It is understood the woman continues to seek accommodation where rent supplement will be accepted and which is within the rent cap.
Another person is currently in emergency accommodation after some 10 months sleeping on the sofa of a family member while trying to find a place to live. This person continues the search for accommodation, despite having saved up a deposit and attended multiple viewings.
The aim of the Implementation Plan is to address homelessness over the next two and a half years and has identified availability and supply of secure affordable and adequate housing as essential to achieving this objective. COPE Galway has welcomed some specific recommendations such as the amendment of local authority schemes allocating social housing to ensure priority is given to homeless cases. It also strongly supports the immediate implentation at local level of iniatives, such as that in operation in Dublin which allows for the faster processing and access to rent supplement and more flexibility concerning deposits and rent cap ceilings where long-term homeless people are engaged with service providers.
COPE Galway has called for initiatives to be introduced which will allow the exercising of discretionary powers by the Department of Social Protection to exceed the rent cap in the exceptional circumstance, where someone is homeless or is at imminent risk of homelessness, and the pre-approval of rent supplement so that vulnerable families and individuals can compete in the private rented sector. COPE Galway considers these measures to be vital in order to avoid the escalation of homelessness in Galway to the crisis stage currently being experienced in Dublin.
COPE Galway says it will continue to monitor the situation and to contribute to any solutions which can make a difference for people either currently homeless or where tenancies are about to be terminated. If anyone finds themselves in such a situation, services, supports and advice can be accessed from the following: Threshold (091 ) 563080; Citizens Advice Galway 0761 07 7600; Clifden CIC 0761 07 7580; Rosmuc CIC 0761 07 7730; and Tuam CIC 0761 07 7740.