Concerns have been raised by a local charity about further increases in the number of people living in Emergency Accommodation in the West of Ireland.
Galway Simon Community has said that the lack of affordable accommodation is one of the factors driving the increase in homelessness.
The number of people staying in Emergency Accommodation has been rising month on month since December, and the charity is concerned that the recent lifting of the moratorium on evictions will lead to further increases in the coming months.
The latest government figures show that 429 people, including 66 families with 152 children, were recorded as living in Emergency Accommodation in the West during March – an increase of 30 people (8%) from the month before.
The number of single adults increased by 18% during this period, with the number of families and children both increasing by 27%.
Galway Simon Community’s Homelessness Prevention Services help to prevent individuals and families from entering into emergency accommodation, and enable people to move on from homeless services to live independently.
One of the ways they do this is by providing people with supports to source affordable accommodation, but the charity says this remains ‘extremely difficult’ due to the lack of affordable accommodation available.
“The current supply of housing and the rate of new housing coming on stream in Galway is inadequate relative to demand across social, affordable and private housing,” said Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon.
“The consequence of this has been an increasing overreliance on the Private Rental Sector which we know is out of reach for many due to unaffordability.
“There is a particular shortage of one bed properties for single people and appropriate affordable accommodation for families also remains an issue.”
Locked Out of the Market, a Simon Communities of Ireland report released last week, looked at available properties within HAP limits to rent in 16 areas throughout Ireland in March 2021, including Galway City Centre and the wider Galway City area.
There were just two properties that fell within the HAP limits in Galway City Centre throughout the study period; the first time in six studies that there has been any availability within the HAP ranges.
In the wider Galway City area, there were also only two properties that fell within the HAP limits.
The snapshot study found rent for one-bed properties in Galway City Centre ranged from €600 to €2,950 and in the wider Galway City area ranged from €585 to €1,200. The majority of asking rents were well above the HAP limits for the respective categories.
A second report launched last week by the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI, Galway in association with the Irish Council for Social Housing, found that ‘in Galway, those in income deciles 1-8 could not afford private sector rents’.
Karen Golden said that the lack of affordable accommodation remains a major concern and is a big factor in driving people into homelessness, as well as preventing people from leaving homelessness behind them for good.
“We have started to see an easing of Covid-19 restrictions recently, including the lifting of the moratorium on evictions, and we have yet to see the impact of this on people in our community,” said Karen.
“Our teams will continue to support people coming to us for help as the housing and homelessness crises continue.”