There are no properties within Galway City which could be considered affordable to people making use of the HAP payment.
The Simon Communities latest quarterly Locked Out of the Market report found that, in June, there were just 37 rental properties available in Ireland that fell within HAP limits.
The bulk of these were within Dublin, and none of them could be found within Galway City Centre or suburbs.
“This is not unexpected, given the discretionary HAP limit extends to 50% in Dublin, while the rest of the country is limited to only 20%,” the Simon Communities said.
The Locked Out of the Market report examines the experience of people on a low income and dependent on Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to access housing in the private rental market.
It considers the availability of properties within both the standard and discretionary HAP limits in 16 areas around the country for single people, a couple, a couple/one parent and one child, and a couple/one parent and two children.
The report found that that there was a 43% decline in the number of properties within the limit of the Housing Assistance Payment since March of this year.
The number of properties available to rent in the areas surveyed, at any price, had also fallen to 657, a decline of 11% since the March report.
Last Thursday, July 7, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien signed new regulations increasing the HAP discretionary limit outside of Dublin to 35%.
Had this been in effect at the time of the study, it would have resulted in an additional five properties being available outside of the capital.
The Minister also increased the ingle adult HAP rate to match the couple’s rate, which would have made more properties available to single people.
Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said that the lack of properties, and growing homelessness, is reaching unprecedented levels.
“In May we had 10,325 people in homeless emergency accommodation. These numbers are truly shocking.”
He said that the rates changes made by the Minister will “relieve some of the pressure” from people on the payment, and keep some vulnerable households out of homelessness.
“However, we also have to acknowledge the depth of the crisis in housing. That means we have to start looking for options that can create some breathing room in the housing system.”
He said that bringing even 3% a year of the 166,000 vacant homes identified in the latest census back into use, would create that headroom.
“In the coming budget, we will be calling on the government to make that level of commitment.”