379 People Avail of Emergency and Transitional Accommodation on One Night
31 March 2021
“Homelessness Has Not Gone Away” – COPE Galway
COPE Galway has asked that the people of Galway do not forget the plight of people who are homeless and without a place to call home as we continue to live with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the night of the Spring Equinox, COPE Galway accommodated 171 adults and 168 children in emergency accommodation. COPE Galway’s most recent ‘point in time snapshot’ census* on March 21 reports that, of this total, 79 single people and 65 families were accommodated across a range of COPE Galway operated emergency accommodation hostels, a Family Hub, own door self-contained units for families and placements in private emergency accommodation in the form of B&Bs. On that date a further 40 single people were accommodated by COPE Galway in a range of transitional community based shared houses in Galway.
In addition, the Rent Index produced by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has detailed that the standardised rent for Quarter 4 of 2020 in Galway City was €1,166, representing a 2% increase on this time last year. Galway County experienced a 5% increase on the same period, with the figure standing at €1,106.
‘Both sets of figures are going in the wrong direction and are not unrelated’ says Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway. ‘We are particularly concerned about the growing number of single people who are relying on emergency accommodation here in Galway, many for extended periods of time. This is in part down to the fact that rent levels are beyond what many can afford. Fortunately we have seen a drop in the numbers of families in emergency accommodation but are concerned that when the current moratorium of evictions ceases, those on notices to quit from the private rental sector and who are desperately trying to rent new homes simply won’t be able to afford do so’.
‘We continue to call for additional social housing as the most important response to this situation but there is a question mark over how Government plans to meet their ambitious build target for 2021’ said Mr. O’Connor. ‘The 2021 national target for housing delivery through building is 9,500. This is part of the overall 2016 to 2021 target at 34,210 of which 22,977 have been delivered’ explained Mr. O’Connor. ‘While it is clear that the overall five year target won’t be met it is vital that this year’s target is achieved’.
In Galway City, 198 new-build social housing units were completed in 2020 while 115 were delivered in Galway County.
The ambitious targets set by Government of delivering 15,000 private rented tenancies though the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, while welcomed by COPE Galway, will be very difficult to achieve, according to Mr. O’Connor. ‘The slowdown in house building combined with a reported increase in the purchase price of homes and increases in rent levels all point to a shortage of units. We know from experience that this type of scenario results in an increase in homelessness – a situation we do not want to see worsen in Galway.”
Contact Martin O’Connor
*COPE Galway conducted their spring equinox point in time census of the numbers of households availing of their homeless and accommodation services on Sunday March 21st 2021. This four-times-a-year census exercise, which is conducted to coincide with the spring and autumn equinox and the summer and winter solstice, gives a snap-shot in time picture of the situation on the ground.
COPE Galway Background Information
COPE Galway is a local Galway organisation whose vision is for a community where every person is valued, cared for and supported at every stage of life.
COPE Galway understands, respects and responds to the needs of people who struggle with the challenges of homelessness and domestic abuse and supports older people towards healthy and active ageing.
COPE Galway has been providing essential social services across these three service areas to the people of Galway on behalf of the state since the 1970s. They offer support services from 11 locations across the city with a team of 160 employees and 150 volunteers. Last year, COPE Galway supported over 3,000 men, women, children and young people across the city and county.
COPE Galway’s strategy for 2020-2025 focuses the organisation on its mission: Making a difference by empowering people, creating change and strengthening communities. COPE Galway places its values – rights, respect, hope, community, safety and professionalism – at the heart of its work in the community.