By Suhasini Srinivasaragavan
More than 11,500 people are accessing emergency accommodation in Ireland, according to the latest numbers released by the Department of Housing. However, these numbers severely underrepresent the true nature of the housing crisis in Ireland.
Rough sleepers, sofa surfers, people in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodations and victims of domestic abuse are some of the unrecorded homeless, said David Byrne from COPE Galway.
“It is a very small number that is counted (for the homeless figure),” he added. However, he said that gauging the accurate number is a Herculean task, pointing to issues such as privacy, data protection, a lack of resources and time required to conduct consistent research in widespread, difficult-to-reach areas.
Close to 30,000 New Dwellings Completed
1,260 households in Galway city and 1,600 in the county are on the social housing waiting list, said Mr Byrne. He welcomed the significant number of houses completed in the last quarter, adding that “any number of houses built is a positive sign.”
29,851 new dwellings were completed in 2022 nationally, the Irish Government’s latest report reveals, a significant 45.2% increase since 2021. These include over 5,500 single units, 15,000 scheme dwellings, and 9,000 apartments. 1,300 of the total completed units are in Galway.
However, he maintains that “fundamentally, there’s not enough of any type of housing being built…(and), not enough affordable homes.” adding that “Over 50% of the social housing waiting list are single households.”
Mr Byrne points to the Danish model as one that provides more in-depth and accurate results on homelessness. “It’s a massive piece of work, that’s why they conduct one every two years, and it gives a more accurate figure,” he said. “(Although) While our system isn’t perfect, you have to pick a system,”he added.