Housing shortage leaving more families homeless

An increasing number of families are becoming homeless in Galway due to the shortage of affordable private rented housing.

According to COPE Galway, the Galway-based homeless charity, more people are turning to family and friends for a bed or even the floor to sleep.

COPE recently conducted a one day census on the numbers of families and individuals being accommodated and supported by the organisation between March 3 and 4. It found that 40 families, including 97 children, were accommodated by COPE Galway, stayed with family or friends, or were in imminent danger of losing their accommodation and actively seeking an alternative on that day.

Of that number 11 families, including 23 children, stayed with family and friends due to being homeless on the night of March 3, 12 families, including 24 children, were accommodated in COPE Galway services on the same night, and 17 families with 50 children were in contact with COPE Galway services who were in imminent risk of losing their accommodation/housing and were seeking assistance to find an alternative place to live.

A further 45 single person households were accommodated by COPE Galway on the same night.

The charity also carried out a survey of the private rented accommodation advertised on Daft.ie and found that of the 111 properties at 12 noon on March 3 just one, a room in a shared house, was within the current rent supplement cap limits in Galway city. This was for only for a single person, with no properties within the rent supplement limits for the various other household types.

The asking rents for a three-bedroom property ranged from €825 to €1,400 per month, averaging €1,063 for the 24 properties advertised. The maximum rent supplement payable for a family for a three-bedroom property in Galway city stands at €725.

The most competitively priced of the 43 two-bedroom properties available had an asking rent of €750 with the average standing at €993. The cheapest one bedroom advertised had an asking price of €550 per month, while the average asking price of the nine one-bedroom properties available was at €697 per month. The rent supplement limit for a single person for a one bedroom property is €425 per month.

Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway says there is a very real crisis facing an increasing number of families in Galway.

While acknowledging recent announcements of various social housing strategies and initiatives to address the current homelessness and housing situation, O’Connor said the private rented sector had been best placed to meet immediate needs, but this was no longer the case due to high rents and the inability of lower income households to afford these rents.

“ In fact the increase in family homelessness in Galway over the past year is in a large part down to the increasing rents in the private rented sector.”

COPE Galway says Government measures need to be actioned now and low income households need to be given the necessary financial support to compete in this sector.

“Rent certainty has the potential to slow down the numbers of families and individuals becoming homeless, but the Government needs to act on this immediately.

“There is also a need to again revisit the issue of rent supplement cap limits and increase them where necessary so that people who are reliant on this income support can compete for housing in the current market.”

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