There’s not a single rental property on the market in Galway city that’s affordable to people on housing assistance payments according to the latest study.
Galway Simon Community’s 11th ‘Locked Out of the Market’ report shows that the gap between rental prices and housing assistance limits is increasing in the city.
In a three-day snapshot study conducted earlier this summer, Galway Simon found that there were only 18 properties available to rent within the city.
The three one-bed apartment were all priced between €850 – €1000, well above the €575 HAP/Rent Supplement limit for someone renting a single bed property.
Ten two-bed properties available cost between €1100 – €1750, even further out of reach for a couple or parent with two two children, who are limited to €875 in rent.
Karen Golden, CEO of the Simon Community said it’s shocking just how inaccessible the rental market is for so many people.
“A lot of the people we support, and many more in the community, rely on housing benefits like Rent Supplement/HAP to provide them with housing.”
“However, as the gap between these limits and market rents continues to grow, more people are being pushed further towards homelessness,” she continued.
“For the last four Locked Out studies, over a period of almost a year, not one property has been available to rent within the housing benefit limits and this is extremely worrying.”
This is particularly alarming since 72% of Galway city’s social housing targets for 2018, 668 units, are meant to be delivered through the private sector to HAP and RS recipients.
There were no properties available for couples in four categories of Housing Assistance Payment: Single, €575 rent limit, Couple, €650, Couple/Single with one child, €850, Couple/Single with two children, €875.
More than this, the simple number of rental properties on the market has decreased dramatically since the Simon Community began doing the Locked Out studies.
When the first study was carried out in May 2015 it found 104 properties on the market, down to just 18 this time.
This year’s study was carried out over three days from May 1 -3 this year.
“The decrease in the supply of affordable properties within the private rental sector in Galway is a serious concern. This, coupled with the fact that there is virtually no new social housing coming on stream, means that the current housing supply is inadequate to meet the demand from the local community,” Karen said.
Galway city council has been the weakest local authority in the country recently for building or purchasing new social housing.
Last year the city built no new social housing at all.
There have also been calls lately for the government to regulate AirBnB, which it has been claimed is taking many properties off the market for medium or long term renting.
Galway Simon say it’s essential for the council not only to begin building more social housing, but to take other measures to keep people in their homes and out of emergency accommodation and homelessness services.
“If we can prevent someone from becoming homeless in the first place, we can in turn reduce the trauma for them of having to access emergency homeless services. Prevention ultimately reduces the human and economic costs associated with homelessness.” Karen concluded.