Local Election Candidates asked to Pledge to Address Housing and Homelessness Crisis in Galway
30 April 2019
COPE Galway has this week written to candidates standing for election to Galway City and County Councils, asking them to sign up to a pledge to:
Meet housing targets by building new social housing
Ensure an adequate and suitable response to homelessness
Ensure age-appropriate social housing options
The local charity is also encouraging the wider Galway public to support its efforts to secure firm commitments from local election candidates to address the housing and homelessness crisis in Galway. COPE Galway’s Martin O’Connor said, “Many of those with whom we currently work, who are in emergency accommodation today, were canvassed on the door steps of their own homes in 2014. They didn’t know how much their circumstances were going to change before the next opportunity came up to ask those running for our councils to address a most basic requirement: having a place to call home. We are asking the Galway community during this election time to please speak to candidates about the very important issues for which we have sought the candidates’ pledge to address if elected”.
There are 3,547 households on the social housing waiting lists across the two Galway Local Authorities. Over 1,600 of these are waiting 5 years or more for housing. COPE Galway has highlighted to candidates the urgent need for new additional social housing to be built to address this situation and to meet social housing targets. The charity also points to an over reliance of both Galway Councils on the private rental market – largely through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) – as not being sustainable to meet social housing need.
“Social Housing builds provide security of tenure; HAP does not, as landlords can still end tenancies, leaving households in precarious situations and at a very real risk of homelessness”, said Mr O’Connor. “We are asking candidates here in Galway to pledge that they will, if elected, work to ensure that their council increases its supply of social housing through building”. COPE Galway points to research from March 2018 to illustrate the insecure nature of HAP for people who are in need of long-term housing. The research showed that 5,938 households nationally had left the HAP scheme, of which 1,612 were as a result of landlords exiting the scheme.
COPE Galway has also highlighted that those accessing homeless services are not an identical or homogenous group. “We are seeing increasing numbers of all family types and age cohorts including young adults and older people presenting as homeless, many with a range of different vulnerabilities, health and support needs and requiring suitable service responses, which are not always available”, explained Mr O’Connor. “We are asking candidates to pledge that, if elected, they will work to ensure that the necessary range of adequate and suitable responses are in place in the local authority they are seeking election to, for the large variety of those who need assistance due to being homeless”.
Candidates are also being asked to pledge to ensure age appropriate housing options are in place going forward. COPE Galway emphasises the challenges an increasing proportion of 45 to 54 year olds living in private rental accommodation are facing due to rents increasing and the ever-present insecurity of tenure. The organisation expresses concerns regarding the ability of those in this age bracket to continue paying rents as they age. “There are 384 of those on the current social housing waiting lists across both Galway local authorities who are aged 60 or over. We are concerned that a proportion of these are vulnerable to becoming homeless into the future and consider that now is the time to put plans in place to avoid this occurring” said Mr O’Connor.
“At the other end of the age scale, an increasing number of younger people are becoming homeless or are continuing to live with a parent due to the shortage of adequate age appropriate housing. Again, this needs to be addressed now and we are calling on those seeking to be elected to our local authorities to give an undertaking to do this if elected”, continued Mr. O’Connor.
Below are links to both pledges, with background and supporting information.
- Local elections 2019 COPE Galway City Council Candidates Pledge
- Local elections 2019 COPE Galway County Council Candidates Pledge
- List of Candidates who have signed the pledge
Note to Editor:
COPE Galway is a local Galway Organisation whose vision is an “Improved Quality of Life in a Home of your Own” for people affected by homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic abuse, and older people.
In 2018 COPE Galway worked with 949 adults and 457 children affected by homelessness in Galway, including 186 families, 612 single people and 21 couples. They also worked with 457 individual women and their children who were experiencing Domestic Abuse; produced and delivered 59,053 meals to older clients and for our services around Galway; worked with 730 older people at risk of isolation and supported 3,263 individuals through the FEAD programme (Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived).
For more information: copegalway.ie/local-elections-2019
Phone 091 778750 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org