Galway Simon Community has welcomed the announcement of the special Housing Taskforce which is to be established in Galway to increase the availability of affordable and social housing. The Galway Housing Delivery Taskforce is to be set up by Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, to identify and address issues that are preventing people from securing housing.

The announcement came following the publication of the 2018 social housing delivery figures which show that only 21 new social housing builds were completed in the Galway City Council Local Authority area in 2018, only 22% of the 96 units targeted by Government. The figures also show that Galway City Council is delivering a higher percentage of new social housing solutions through RAS and HAP, ie the private rented sector, than any other Local Authority in the country. The Rebuilding Ireland target for social housing to be provided through the private rented sector is 63%, but Galway City Council’s percentage for 2018 was 91%. This is considerably higher than Leitrim County Council who delivered the second highest percentage (82%) of its social housing through RAS and HAP.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said that while the Housing Taskforce is a welcome development, it is crucial that this group is proactive and realistic about the situation in Galway.

“Galway Simon Community has been advocating for urgent action for some time now and we are delighted to see that the Government has recognised that the homeless and housing crisis in Galway is at crisis point by establishing the Galway Housing Delivery Taskforce.

“Secure and affordable housing in Galway is currently extremely hard to come by and our clients, along with hundreds of others in Galway, are struggling to stay afloat in the homes they do have. The new Taskforce is a welcome measure that we hope will help to prevent many individuals and families from having to access emergency or homeless services.

“It is crucial however, that this taskforce looks beyond the private rental sector to deliver affordable housing. We have been far too reliant on the private rental sector over the last number of years and this is one of the contributing factors to the extent of the homeless crisis in Galway today. The last Daft rental report showed that average rents in Galway City were increasing annually at 13% and in the County at almost 16%. Despite this, there were 889 social housing tenancies delivered through HAP alone in 2018 in Galway City and County.

“Our services supported 550 households in 2018, 410 of whom were living in the community –  individuals and families who were faced with homelessness. Many of these households were faced with evictions or could not afford their rent, even if they were in receipt of HAP, due to the high and increasing rent levels in Galway.

“We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with the Galway Housing Delivery Taskforce to outline for them the impact that the housing and homelessness crisis is having on the people we support. One family in emergency accommodation is one too many – having 500 people in emergency accommodation in the West of Ireland, up from 34 in June 2014, is shocking. We hope that the Taskforce can enable the delivery of more social and affordable housing in Galway, which in turn will prevent more people here from losing their homes and experiencing the trauma of homelessness.”

Monday 25th February 2019