Galway charity worried about potential surge of homelessness

By Seoirse Mulgrew

COPE Galway has said it is “genuinely concerned” about the potential increase in homelessness once the 5km restrictions are lifted.

The limit on movement is expected to be lifted on April 5.

David Byrne, advocacy and policy worker at COPE Galway, outlined how the 5km restrictions “paused” the threat of homelessness for Galway residents.

“When the 5k restrictions came in any notices to quit were pretty much paused. Once the restrictions end there’s a 10-day grace period and then whatever time is left on your notice to quit starts again. The clock pretty much starts ticking right away.”

“The risks and vulnerabilities people had due to the housing market pre Covid are still there, the restrictions just paused it for people.”

“People are at risk of homelessness. Homelessness didn’t end because of Covid-19. We’re still providing services, people are still sleeping rough,” he said.

A total of 60 families were in COPE Galway emergency accommodation as of March 11, 2021. That figure consisted of 88 adults and 162 children. There were also 78 single people, 52 of which were male and 26 were female.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage monthly homelessness report for January 2021 outlined that during the week of January 25 to 31, 220 people were homeless in Galway.

However, those figures only include people who were in emergency accommodation at the time and does not include those who were sleeping rough.

Mr Byrne reiterated the fact that many Galway residents are still unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

“Just because restrictions lift, doesn’t mean everything will be back to normal. People are still going to be out of employment.”

“Coupled with this, the building of houses has severely sunk down the last year. So you have that to deal with as well, there’s less of a supply. There has always been a shortage of affordable accommodation in Galway,” he said.

COPE Galway is a local charity that helps men, women and children who are affected by homelessness or domestic abuse.

The charity provides supported accommodation in their Salthill and Galway City locations. It also operates an outreach service which provides emergency refuge for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

To find out more information or how to help those who are facing homelessness in Galway, visit their website at copegalway.ie

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