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Budget 2018: Addressing Homeless Crisis Must be No.1 Priority

24th July 2017

 â€śBUILD ADDITIONAL SOCIAL HOUSING”

COPE GALWAY SAYS ADDRESSING HOMELESS CRISIS MUST BE THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR GOVERNMENT IN FRAMING BUDGET 2018

COPE Galway has this week written to Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, urging him to tackle the current homeless crisis as his number one priority in framing Budget 2018.  COPE Galway has highlighted to Minister Donohoe the extraordinary deterioration of the situation on the ground in Galway where there are in the region of 50 homeless families, including up to 100 children, and 45 single person households in emergency accommodation in the City on any given night and up to 50 people, men and women, sleeping rough.

“This is an unprecedented situation in Galway,” explained Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway.  “The most obvious manifestation of the crisis are the numbers of people who can be seen bedding down in shop doorways in the city centre at night time but what most people in our community don’t realise is that there are so many people, families and single person households, trapped in emergency accommodation for weeks and months at a time as they cannot find and secure housing”. 

Mr O’Connor went on to explain that homeless services in the city are stretched to breaking point and that there are very real concerns about the coming autumn and winter period and how the city can address this situation.  “There is a lot of really good work happening in terms of intervening early to help prevent someone becoming homeless and there is a steady stream of allocations of social housing, but it feels that this is hardly making a dent on the large numbers coming through our doors”, said Mr O’Connor.

COPE Galway is calling on Minister Donohoe and his colleagues in Government to take whatever measures are necessary to build additional social housing, including increasing the capital budget provision and both resourcing and supporting local housing authorities and approved housing bodies to build this housing.  They also see scope for further measures to be taken to support households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to compete in the private rental housing market. They are calling for increases in the maximum cap limits for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme to correspond to market rent levels and for the expansion to Galway of the Homeless HAP scheme which allows for up to a 50% uplift on these limits for homeless households. 

“Shortage of supply of housing generally in Galway and, in particular, the shortage of supply of social housing is indisputable at this point and the only way that this can be addressed is through the building of more housing” stated Mr O’Connor. 

“We know that there are a range of challenges and obstacles that have to be overcome to bring this necessary additional social housing on stream but ways have to be found to overcome these. Budget 2018 represents an opportunity for Government to clearly demonstrate their commitment and intent to get one with providing these badly needed additional homes for its citizens”, he said.

COPE Galway also highlights the need for additional resources to respond to the immediate needs of people in terms of emergency accommodation and to provide the necessary support to people moving out of homelessness, in particular those with higher support needs. “Funding levels for homeless services in Galway have been largely stagnant over the past number of years despite the increasing levels of demands. Without the generosity of the people of Galway through their support of our work it would not be possible to do as much as we are doing” said Mr O’Connor.  “We are now calling on our Government to provide us with the necessary additional funding to address the ever-growing demands on services”.

COPE Galway has also this week made pre-budget submissions to Minister Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and Minister Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment and Social Protection detailing specific measures they consider necessary in Budget 2018 to tackle the housing and homeless situation and to address the underlying issues giving rise to poverty for a significant number of the people COPE Galway works with on a day to day basis.                   

COPE Galway also sets out a range of measures to address other areas of vulnerability relating to those using the organisation’s services for Older People and Domestic Violence services. For example, the submission calls for a reversal of the 2012 state pension cuts and an abolition of civil aid fees for people experiencing Domestic Violence.    

The COPE Galway Budget 2018 Pre-Budget submission can be found by clicking here. 

COPE Galway is a local organisation providing supports & services for people affected by Homelessness, women and children experiencing Domestic Violence, and for Older People.  COPE Galway helps to Improve Quality of Life in a Home Of Your Own by Supporting Home, Promoting Community and Reducing Isolation.

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Contact:       Martin O'Connor, Assistant CEO, COPE Galway               Tel: 091 778 750

Website   www.copegalway.ie          Facebook COPE Galway       Twitter COPE Galway

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