The supply of affordable accommodation to rent in Galway is at a critical level according to the latest housing report from the Galway Simon Community.
The latest Locked Out of the Market report from the Simon Community released this week shows that the gap between Housing Assistance Payments and the cost of rented accommodation is increasing.
The three day snapshot study which took place from December 10 – 12 showed that there was only one property available to rent in Galway City Centre and two in the wider city area that were within the standard HAP limits.
During this time period there were an average total of 25 properties available in the city centre, and 54 in the wider city area.
In the wider city area, the average rent for a one-bedroom property was between €480 and €1000, for a two-bedroom place that became €980 and €2,000, and a three-bedroom home would cost €1,200 to €2,000 a month.
Crucially, the vast majority of these asking rents were well above the HAP limits for the respective categories.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the lack of affordable accommodation in the private rental sector is prolonging the housing and homelessness crisis.
“Rent is continuing to increase and with that, so is the gap between rents and HAP limits,” Karen said, adding that many of the people supported by Galway Simon rely on the HAP scheme, but still need “top ups” to make rent.
Helping people find affordable accommodation is an important part of their work to keep people from going into emergency accommodation Karen said.
But she warned that they are finding it increasingly difficult to source accommodation that meets these criteria.
“We support people every day who have had to choose between paying top ups in rent and essential bills like heat, light or food.”
“It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately some people end up paying the ultimate price through involuntarily becoming homeless.”
She said that the rate of new social housing builds in Galway thus far has not been enough to deal with the number of people in emergency accommodation or on housing lists.
“We anticipate that more social housing will become available later this year and into 2021, and we look forward to this increased delivery of social housing having a positive impact on the crisis”.
However, in the long term, she said that fixing this crisis will require heavy government investment in social and affordable housing across all accommodation types.