‘Hidden homeless’ among growing number without housing in Galway

Local authority figures are being ‘massaged’, says former mayor

“Sofa surfing” and tourist hostels are becoming the refuge for Galway’s “hidden homeless”, according to the Cope homeless and domestic violence refuge agency.

Former Galway mayor and independent councillor Catherine Connolly has expressed alarm at the number seeking housing on the Galway City Council waiting list – 3,964 households, or about 10,000 people.

This compares to 3,434 households for September 2013, Ms Connolly notes.

“It’s actually worse than the figures suggest, as anyone who goes on a long-term leasing or rental accommodation scheme is automatically removed from the housing waiting list,” she said. “It would suggest that the housing need figures are being massaged.


“People are being given no choice in this matter, and there is no long-term security with either of these options.”

A one-day census by Cope earlier this month found that 51 children were among 124 people staying in emergency accommodation or with family friends due to a shortage of affordable housing and rent increases.

The census, between October 6th and 7th, recorded a further 13 people sleeping rough, while 19 adults and 17 children were at “imminent risk” of losing their accommodation.

Sleeping in car

One man has been sleeping in a car because he has two pets he is unwilling to part with, according to the organisation.

The situation is showing no signs of easing, according to chief executive Jacquie Horan, as fewer landlords are accepting rent supplement and the local authority's building programme was suspended in 2011.

Young Traveller families are also being caught in the homeless trap, with a shortage of culturally suitable accommodation and a reluctance to use homeless emergency services, according to Galway Traveller Movement spokeswoman Margaret O'Riada.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times