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Published on: Galway Simon Community News

Locked Out of the Market: No properties available within housing support limits

Galway Simon Community say the private rental sector in Galway is out of reach for those relying on the assistance payments as the gap between housing support limits and market rent prices continues to increase, according to latest study.

This trend is extremely worrying, given that 72% (668 units) of Galway’s social housing targets for 2018 are to be delivered through HAP and RAS tenancies in the private rental sector across the city and county. The report demonstrates yet again that the private rental sector is not appropriate for the delivery of social housing. The government, and local authorities, need to start building and developing more social housing directly.

The Simon Communities study, Locked Out of the Market XI, the eleventh study of its kind, showed that there were no properties 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 18 properties were available to rent in Galway City during the snapshot three-day study in May 2018 (1st, 2nd and 3rd).

The study found that rent for the three one-bed properties available in Galway City were between €850 and €1000, well above the Rent Supplement/HAP limit of €575 for a one-bedroom property for a single person. The ten two-bed properties available to rent were between €1,100 and €1,750, also well above the Rent Supplement/HAP limit of €875 for a couple or parent with two children.

Since the first study was carried out in May 2015, the supply of rental properties available in Galway City during the study period has decreased significantly by 82.7%, going from an average of 104 properties available in the first study to just 18 in May.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community said it is shocking that the rental market is out of reach for so many and that preventative measures are critical going forward.

“A lot of the people we support, and many more in the community, rely on housing benefits like Rent Supplement/HAP to provide them with housing. However, as the gap between these limits and market rents continues to grow, more people are being pushed further towards homelessness. For the last four Locked Out studies, over a period of almost a year, not one property has been available to rent within the housing benefit limits and this is extremely worrying”, Karen said.

“The decrease in the supply of affordable properties within the private rental sector in Galway is a serious concern. This, coupled with the fact that there is virtually no new social housing coming on stream, means that the current housing supply is inadequate to meet the demand from the local community”, Karen added.

Karen explained the need for the Government to focus on preventative measures, saying it is essential to stopping the flow of people into homeless services.

“At a time when the crisis is so critical in the West and there is little or no social housing, it’s vitally important that more of a focus is put on keeping people in the homes that they already have to stop the flow into emergency accommodation and homeless services. That’s why homelessness prevention within the community is a critical part of what we do at Galway Simon.

“Every day we see the effects that early intervention and prevention has on those that we work with. Our focus on prevention can mean the difference between an individual or family staying in the family home that they have or uprooting their entire life and entering emergency accommodation, not knowing when they’ll come out. If we can prevent someone from becoming homeless in the first place, we can in turn reduce the trauma for them of having to access emergency homeless services. Prevention ultimately reduces the human and economic costs associated with homelessness”, Karen said.

Download Locked Out XI here.

Thursday 16th August 2018