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Galway City housing executive pressed on Traveller accommodation


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway City housing executive pressed on Traveller accommodation

From the Galway City Tribune – Travellers make up around 80 per cent of the people in emergency accommodation in Galway City as they find it ‘especially challenging’ to secure properties in the private rental market.

A Joint Oireachtas Committee Meeting on Housing was told that members of the Traveller community had to deal with disproportionate challenges due to the reliance of the State on private landlords – the City Council having delivered not one Traveller-specific site in the last five years.

The matter was raised by TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív (FF) who questioned members of the City Council Housing Department on what was being done to address this.

“Recognising that a disproportionate challenge is faced by the Traveller Community because of bias in the private market, will Mr Mahon [Dermot Mahon, Head of the Housing Unit] tell me how many Traveller Specific Schemes were delivered in the past five years?” asked Deputy Ó Cuív.

“None,” said Mr Mahon, who told the committee that there was a high proportion of Traveller families in emergency accommodation throughout the city.

This included in a family hub which was developed in 2018 and a modular hub which opened in 2020, “the first such facility in the country”.

“Approximately 40 Traveller families are availing of private emergency accommodation at present. Principally, the private rental market is not an option for Traveller families anymore.

“The reliance on the private market with regard to accommodation supports for Travellers is significantly reduced, as it is for the general population, but Travellers find it especially challenging to access private rental accommodation in the current market,” said Mr Mahon.

“That has subsequently led to an increase in the number of homeless Traveller families that are presenting.”

There were 40 traveller-specific units planned over the next five years, continued Mr Mahon.

Deputy Ó Cuív queried if these were to replace existing substandard accommodation, such as that at Carrowbrowne, or new accommodation for Travellers among the 4,300 households on the housing waiting list.

Mr Mahon said some were to deal with the two sites in the city that must close – Carrowbrowne and Cúl Trá (Bishop’s Field) in Lower Salthill.

“We do not own one of the sites and the conditions on the other are not great. We need to close that site over time and provide alternative accommodation supports for those families who have requested a particular form of support, that is Traveller-specific accommodation as opposed to a standard local authority house.

“In our next Traveller Accommodation Plan, which we will be drafting very soon, we will look at additional schemes required across the city, whether they are the typical group housing scheme or our culturally appropriate Traveller accommodation schemes,” he said.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, November 4. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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