Government must rethink its housing policy given the failure of the private market to provide homes

Cope’s recently published Annual Report on homelessness in Galway highlights in the most acute way the ongoing housing crisis in Galway.

Deputy Catherine Connolly said “the increase in the number of homeless children from 369 in 2015 to 512 in 2016 is a shocking indictment of City Council and Government policy. This is a policy that to date has utterly relied on the private market to provide homes notwithstanding that the reliance on the private market has led to the crisis.”

Indeed from 2011 onwards, said Deputy Connolly, Council management repeatedly confirmed to Councillors that the only game in town was the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP); a system which puts public funds directly into landlord’s bank accounts and which is significantly contributing to higher rents in the city. In addition, not one single social house has been built in Galway by the City Council since 2009.

Deputy Connolly said that she is in receipt of constant urgent representations from applicants on the housing list, some of whom are now waiting 16 years for a council house, during which time they have never been offered a home, such is the extent of the housing crisis and the pressure on the allocation system from the homeless services.

Given the government’s policy to date, the housing crisis will continue said Deputy Connolly unless there is a realisation or acceptance by government that a public housing construction programme is an essential part of any solution.

Moreover, to date the Government has given no consideration whatsoever to co-operative housing; a model that has been quite successful in the past in Ireland and continues to be in other countries. Deputy Connolly said “the rhetoric of the provision of social housing through the HAP scheme has to stop and a public housing construction programme rolled out that also includes co-operative and affordable housing”.

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