Galway Simon Community says the private rental sector in Galway is out of reach for the majority of those relying on assistance payments as the gap between housing support limits and market rent prices continues to increase, according to latest study.

The local charity say this trend is extremely worrying, given that 91% of social housing delivered in 2018 in Galway City was through RAS/HAP tenancies. The latest Simon Communities report demonstrates yet again that an overreliance on the private rental sector for the delivery of social and affordable housing is not appropriate.

The Locked Out of the Market report released this week by the Simon Communities of Ireland, the 13th study of its kind, showed that there were only 3 properties available to rent in Galway City within the Rent Supplement/HAP limits across the four categories; single person, couple, couple/parent with 1 child, couple/parent with 2 children. An average of 24 properties were available to rent in Galway City during the snapshot three-day study in November 2018 (21st to 23rd).

The study found that rent for the three one-bed properties available in Galway City was between €550 and €1200 monthly, and between €900 and €2,250 for the seventeen two-bedroom properties.  The majority of asking rents were well above the Rent Supplement/HAP limits for the respective categories.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the private rental market is not a sustainable way to deliver social and affordable housing and that other delivery methods, as well as preventative measures to stop people sliding into homelessness, are critical going forward.

“A lot of the people we support, and thousands more in the community, rely on Housing Assistance Payments (HAP). However, the latest Simon Communities study shows that, for the majority of properties available to rent in Galway, there is very clearly a significant gap between the HAP limits and market rents. This means that tenants can end up having to choose between essential bills like heat, light or food and paying their rent”, Karen said.

“There are 1,728 households on the social housing waiting list in Galway City alone, but only 54 new social housing units were delivered in Galway City in 2018 through new builds, acquisitions and leasing. This year, it’s critical that an urgent focus is put on new builds, acquisition and leasing to ensure that we are less reliant on the private rental market for the delivery of social housing,” Karen explained.

“At the same time, when the crisis is so critical in the West, it’s vitally important that we continue to ensure that preventative measures are in place. We need to stop the flow of people into emergency accommodation and homeless services. Every day we see the positive effect that early intervention and prevention has on those that we work with. If we can prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place, we can in turn prevent the trauma of having to access emergency homeless services. We know that prevention ultimately reduces the human and economic costs associated with homelessness”, Karen added.

Monday 11th March 2019