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Published on: Galway Simon Community News

Galway Simon Community say new Government must take action on the private rental market

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Galway Simon Community comment on the Q1 2016 Rental Report

Galway Simon Community have said that figures released today from the Q1 Rental Report show that access to affordable housing is the biggest challenge facing the country. The report showed rents increased by 12.7% in Galway City and 8.4% in Galway County. The charity is calling for the new Government to take immediate action.

Bill Griffin , CEO of Galway Simon Community said that details of the report are extremely worrying:

‘Rising rents and reduced housing supply are the main reasons that people and families on low incomes and those in receipt of rent supplement are being pushed into homelessness. This is also resulting in people being trapped in homeless services for far too long as they have nowhere to go. We have seen rent increases of 12.7% in Galway City with an average rent of €900 while the number of properties available to rent are now at an all-time low. At the same time Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits have remained at the same level since June 2013, while rent supplement spend actually reduced by 40% between 2011 and 2015. To date the vast majority of private rented properties in Galway – 96%, are beyond the reach of people who are in receipt of state support.¹’

‘Recent commitments by the incoming Government suggest these limits will increase by up to 15% taking into account geographic variations in market rents. While we welcome that this is progress to address these wholly inadequate state housing supports, Galway Simon Community and others have been calling for increased limits for a number of years to keep pace with rising rents to keep people in their homes and we remain concerned that the gap is far greater in many areas. This needs to be an increase of at the very least 15% with the flexibility to enhance payments quickly when and where needed. Stronger protection for tenants is needed in the private rented sector with full rent certainty where rents are linked to the Consumer Price Index. Keeping people in their homes is critical to prevent the stress and trauma of homelessness for more people and families. In the absence of social housing supply, the private rented sector is the only hope for people in homeless services to leave homelessness behind them but they are currently locked out due to rising rents’.

‘We are calling on the new Government to make addressing housing and homelessness their number one priority and to follow through on pre and post-election promises. We welcome that the Programme for Partnership agreed by the new Government has commitments on ‘Ending the housing shortage and homelessness’ and we await more details. What is key is to ensure urgent implementation of all the actions included given the extent of the crisis. It is essential for the men, women and children affected that this issue is prioritised with the necessary authority and resources. With more and more people entering homeless services every month, urgent action must be taken to prevent further homelessness and to give those stuck in homeless services the opportunity to find a home.’

Galway Simon Community provide accommodation and support services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Galway.

¹Locked Out of the Market III: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rent, a snapshot study by the Simon Communities in Ireland.