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‘Watershed moment’ as homeless figures at highest ever level says COPE Galway

As homeless figures exceed 10k nationally, COPE Galway highlight the extent of the challenges locally in Galway

COPE Galway have today said that the publication of the latest homelessness figures for February 2019 by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government must represent a watershed moment for everyone involved in working to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.  These latest figures show that the numbers in emergency accommodation nationally has exceeded 10,000 for the first time ever.

The local Galway homeless charity have recently conducted their own one day census of the numbers of homeless in contact with COPE Galway services over a 24-hour period between March 14th and 15th 2019.  In that 24-hour period a total of 174 Galway households including families, couples and singles were in emergency accommodation operated or supported by COPE Galway.  This is four years on from when the first such census was conducted by COPE Galway in March 2015 which reported 51 households in emergency accommodation at that time.  The growth in the numbers of homeless families is most notable in the intervening four years, up from 12 on one night in March 2015 to 89 on the night of March 14, 2019, while the number of single people in emergency accommodation doubled, up from 39 in 2015 to 79 in 2019.

“We have always identified March 2015 as the beginning of the Homeless Crisis in Galway,” explained Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway.  “What we didn’t anticipate at that point was the extent to which homelessness would grow in both Galway City and County and how enduring it would be, with the numbers in emergency accommodation increasing to such an extent in the intervening four year period”.

COPE Galway highlight that the 10,264 national figure for February 2019 relates only to the numbers of homeless being accommodated in state-funded emergency accommodation and does not include those who are sleeping rough and ‘couch surfing’.  “Over the 24 hour period of our census on March 14th and 15th a further 13 people who slept rough on that night and 11 other households who we would describe as hidden homeless were also in contact” explained Mr O’Connor.  “The number sleeping rough on that night is an especially disappointing figure as there were emergency accommodation beds available at the Cold Weather Response which is in place over the winter period.  This points to the complexity of the challenges some people face in their lives and the need for more than just an available bed for them”.

COPE Galway is calling for a redoubling of everyone’s efforts to ensure that there is a reduction in the numbers and that those who are homeless can move to a home of their own.

“The planned rollout of two family hubs and the introduction of Housing First by City Council in Galway in 2019 are very welcome developments and it is our hope that these will play an important part in reversing the growth in homelessness that we have seen over these past four years,” said Mr. O’Connor.  “With the current programme of new social housing starting to come on stream in Galway City over the coming months and years we are hopeful that the numbers homeless and in emergency accommodation will begin to reduce and that families and individuals who have been homeless can begin to rebuild their lives in their own homes in communities across Galway”.


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 and 612 single people. 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:

Visit                        Find us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @copegalway

Phone 091 778750 / Email