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Over 130 families had to seek homeless help in Galway

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More than 130 families – including 300 children – were given homeless assistance in Galway last year by housing charity COPE Galway, with the situation continuing to worsen.

The extent of Galway’s housing crisis is borne out in stark figures revealed in the charity’s Annual Report for 2014; 652 adults and their 311 children were affected by homelessness last year, but COPE was unable to accommodate 227 women with 280 children who requested refuge, due to lack of space.

A breakdown of the figures shows emergency accommodation was provided for a total of 260 households, comprising 181 single men, 56 single women, 27 lone parent families and 55 children.

The charity has now pleaded with landlords to consider accepting capped rents under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and rent supplement levels – and forego up to €3,000 extra which they could achieve on the open rental market.

Chief Executive Officer Jacquie Horan said: “As an alternative to contributing to COPE Galway financially, landlords would forego the added rent available on the open market, in support of housing for those experiencing homelessness in our local community.

“For example, a landlord willing to forego an extra income of €3,000 per year could provide a house for a family facing homelessness, while continuing to receive an RAS rental income of €850 per month.”

She explained that the situation is continuing to worsen this year.

“Recent months have seen this situation worsen with an increasing number of families becoming homeless, resulting in a reliance on B&Bs and hotels to meet the emergency accommodation needs of some of these families. Our clients continue to experience significant difficulties in trying to secure housing.

“Unfortunately, this situation was not helped by the decision of the Department of Social Protection last February to keep rent supplement cap limits at the same levels as they have been since June 2013. This was despite an annual increase in rent by in excess of 10% for Galway City,” she said.

COPE Chairman, John Concannon, said the increase in homeless families – including ‘hidden homeless’ – over the past year was of particular concern.

“The flow of families into homelessness in the past year has been especially concerning. COPE Galway Family Support services worked with an average of 57 families per month during 2014.

“The reasons for these presentations varied from those at risk of homelessness who needed support to retain their accommodation, to those who had lost their accommodation and needed emergency housing.

“While there was an increase in the numbers of families provided with emergency accommodation by COPE Galway – up from 19 in 2013 to 25 in 2014 – what was more notable was the period of time these families remained in emergency accommodation, averaging 60 nights in 2014 compared to 49 in 2013, due to delays in accessing affordable rental accommodation.

“Another notable trend has been the numbers of families who are ‘hidden homeless’. These are families who have lost their own housing and are involuntarily sharing with family and friends. On December 1, 2014, COPE Galway was aware of 17 families in Galway in this situation.

“The single greatest issue experienced by clients of our homeless services over the past year is difficulty accessing housing.

“Due to a shortage of social housing our clients are mainly reliant on the private rental market. A shortage of housing in this sector, combined with ever-increasing rents, has contributed to a situation where more and more families are becoming homeless, and where individuals and families who do become homeless remain so for longer as they cannot find affordable accommodation.

“This resulted in an average increase in length of stay in our emergency hostels from six weeks in 2013 to eight weeks in 2014,” said Mr Concannon.

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Galway to receive €1million in outdoor recreational funding

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https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/f49pq7/outdoor_online-audio-convertercom_7g892.mp3
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Galway is set to receive one million euro in funding under the Outdoor Recreation Fund.
Half of the fund is going toward the upgrade of the Western Way trail.
€200,000 will go toward the Creggs Mountain Walk, with the remainder shared between ‘The Walks’, Loughrea, and Killarainy Woods in Moycullen.
Local senator Aisling Dolan explains the significance of the funding for the local communities.

-insert audio clip- https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/f49pq7/outdoor_online-audio-convertercom_7g892.mp3

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Taste of Galway at ‘Flavours of Ireland’

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Joanne Nunn, Kuoni Tumlare; Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland; and David Keane, DK Connemara Oysters, at Flavours of Ireland 2022.

Some 60 tourism companies from Ireland attended ‘Flavours of Ireland’ 2022 in London last week – including Connemara Wild Escapes, DK Connemara Oysters and Killary Fjord Boat Tours.

‘Flavours’ is Tourism Ireland’s annual B2B tourism workshop, where tourism companies from Ireland meet and do business with top global inbound tour operators.

Now in its 20th year, ‘Flavours’ took place in the Guildhall, in the City of London, and was attended by around 100 global inbound tour operators who deliver business from all over the world, including the United States, Mainland Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa.

‘Flavours’ provides an excellent opportunity for the participating tourism providers from Galway and Ireland to highlight and sell their tourism product and build valuable relationships with the key decision-makers in attendance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Planning Regulator wants Galway City Council U-turn on Development Plan

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From the Galway City Tribune – The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has asked Galway City Council to roll back material alterations to the new City Development Plan proposed by councillors.

In July, elected members voted through a raft of changes to zonings in the Draft City Development Plan 2023-29, which went out on public display.

But the Planning Regulator has now warned City Hall that many of the proposed changes do not comply with the OPR’s recommendations, and are contrary to national planning guidelines.

The OPR specifically highlighted problems with proposals to rezone as residential land deemed at risk of flooding.

Anne Marie O’Connor, Deputy Regulator, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department outlining the OPR’s fresh advice on the changes to the draft plan proposed and approved by councillors.

The draft plan will come before elected members again this month.

Councillors will be asked to row back on some of their previous material alterations, which ran contrary to advice of the OPR.

Ms O’Connor said the OPR welcomed many of the changes made by the City Council in its draft plan. She said, however, that the OPR “has a number of outstanding concerns relating to the response of the planning authority to its recommendations and to a number of proposed material alterations relating to the zoning of lands”.

These relate to changes that conflict with national and regional objectives for compact growth; with legislative requirements regarding climate action and core strategies; and with rezoning land at risk of flooding.

The OPR highlighted a dozen or more material alterations by councillors that are “not consistent” with the National Planning Framework for compact growth.

These include re-zoning of land from agricultural or recreational and amenity to residential.

The changes voted on by councillors, the OPR noted, were done against the advice of the Council’s Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.

The OPR said the changes proposed by councillors represented a “piecemeal approach” to zoning and were “inconsistent” with national policy.

These comments related to proposed rezoning of land at Rahoon; Dublin Road; Quarry Road, Menlo; Ballindooley; off Circular Road; Menlo village; Roscam and Barna Woods.

The OPR also raised “significant concerns” over five material alterations proposed for residential zonings of land at Western Distributor Road; Terryland; Menlo Village; Headford Road and Barna Woods which are located within flood zones.

The approach by councillors “may place people and property at unnecessary risk from future flood events”, the OPR warned.

Ms O’Connor told planners that if the draft plan ignores the OPR advice or is at odds with its recommendations, the Council Chief Executive must inform the OPR in writing the reasons for doing so.

Save Roscam Peninsula in a 33-page submission to the draft plan echoed many of the concerns outlined by the OPR.

The Council has pencilled in four dates in November and December to approve the plan.

It will meet on November 21, 24 and 28 and December 1 when material alterations will be voted on individually.
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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