A local charity is appealing to landlords to make their properties available to rent to individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Jacquie Horan, the CEO of COPE Galway, which is committed to eliminating the problem, says supply and access to housing is the single biggest issue experienced by its clients.
She was speaking in the wake of a meeting with Housing Minister Simon Coveney during his visit to Galway on Friday. The charity discussed local solutions to homelessness and domestic violence.
"We have had a very positive meeting with a very determined minister," said Ms Horan. "Measures to improve the housing situation in Galway have started already with rent supplement and housing assistance payments increasing by approximately 21 per cent in Galway."
Martin O Connor, the assistant CEO of COPE Galway, outlined that since the charity first appealed to landlords last autumn five properties have been made available by landlords at affordable rent levels to accommodate families with whom COPE is working.
"This has been a very valuable source of housing for families and we welcome contact from any other landlords who may have a property which we could use."
COPE Galway currently provides emergency accommodation for 33 families and 34 single people and and is working with a further 15 families who are at imminent risk of homelessness due to being on notices to quit from their private emergency accommodation. The organisation is also reporting an increase in rough sleeping in Galway with estimates of 10 or more people per night due to shortages of emergency accommodation spaces.
In 2015 COPE Galway worked with 659 adults and their 369 children affected by homelessness in Galway, including 166 families. The organisation joins the national call for solutions to end the housing and homeless crisis. However, while national solutions are being progressed, COPE believes that more immediate solutions can be put in place at a local level.
The Government's Housing Plan is due to be announced this month and will form the basis of the longer-term policy response to the growing housing crisis currently being experienced across many parts of the country, including Galway, according to Ms Horan.
"This plan needs to focus on measures to ensure a significant increase in housing supply, including social housing, if the growth in homelessness is to be arrested and the plight of the ever growing numbers at risk of and becoming homeless is to be addressed."
COPE can be contacted on (091 ) 778750.