Galway Simon Community says the private rental sector in Galway is continuing to spiral out of control and is inaccessible for many 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 homelessness 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 study 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 XIV report released this week by the Simon Communities of Ireland, the 14th study of its kind, showed that there were no properties at all 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 April 2019 (2nd-4th).

The study found that rent for one-bed properties available in Galway City was between €920 and €1600 monthly, and between €960 and €1,950 for two-bedroom properties. The majority of asking rents were well above the Rent Supplement/HAP limits for the respective categories.

Karen Feeney, Head of Client Services at Galway Simon Community said the private rental market is not adequate to deliver the level of social and affordable housing required locally, and that other approaches, as well as preventative measures, are vital going forward.

“We support many people through our services who rely on Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), and there are thousands more in the community who also rely on this to survive. However, the latest Simon Communities study shows that affordability of rent is a huge issue as there is very clearly a significant gap between the HAP limits and market rents. We see this ourselves every day in our frontline services as we are also finding it extremely difficult to source rented accommodation within the HAP limits for those we support. We know too well that people who pay these top ups in rent, can end up having to choose between essential bills like heat, light or food and paying their rent. It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately people end up paying the ultimate price through involuntarily becoming homeless”, Karen said.

“The crisis is worse now than at any other time in the 40 years since Galway Simon was founded. It’s clear that the total lack of an accessible private rental sector and limited social housing has driven this increase. The building rate of social housing in Galway just simply isn’t anywhere near what is required to address the number of people in emergency and homeless services, or on the social housing waiting list. For sustainable long-term solutions, Government commitment and investment in social and affordable housing is urgently needed across all accommodation types both locally and nationwide. In the meantime, it’s vitally important that we continue to ensure that preventative measures are in place. We need to stop the flow of people entering into emergency accommodation and homeless services”, Karen added.

The full report: Locked Out of the Market XIV: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ can be downloaded here.

Tuesday 2nd July 2019