The number of households experiencing homelessness in Galway has risen by 20% in the last year, according to new figures compiled by a charity working in the city. 

COPE Galway said that it had 174 households living in emergency accommodation last week, compared to 139 this time last year. 

A further 24 people were known to be sleeping rough in Galway city on the day the charity conducted its latest survey. 

A total of 14 families sought emergency accommodation for the first time during the month of June. 

COPE Galway's Assistant CEO Martin O'Connor said the number of families in such circumstances remains persistently high. 

Mr O'Connor called on both Galway city and county councillors to put homelessness at the top of their agenda and also said the provision of new social housing must be the top priority for elected representatives in the region. 

A shortage of rental properties, especially around Galway city, is exacerbating the situation. 

While there is expected to be a slight dip in the number of houses and apartments occupied by students during the summer months, short-term letting is further reducing the supply of properties available. 

COPE Galway has appealed to property owners who may have housing to rent to contact the charity, so that it can meet the continual demand placed on it.