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Council opens more emergency accomodation to meet ongoing pressures in homelessness

02 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Former Toys R Us store

Ted Peskett Local Democracy Reporter

A Welsh city council has opened another emergency accommodation site more than month after it was reported that a former Toys R Us site was being used to house homeless people.

Cardiff Council said its homelessness service is continuing to face pressure and it has opened the additional building as a temporary measure to cope with an “upsurge in demand”.

Although it would not reveal where this new accommodation is, the local authority said staff will be on site at all times to support people there.

Toys R Us

The Toys R Us site in Grangetown has been used as a temporary emergency accommodation site since December.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The ongoing pressure faced by our homelessness services means the council needed to further extend its emergency accommodation provision recently.

“Only a few weeks ago, we opened a large building in the south of the city to create additional capacity and around 80 people have been using this accommodation, including 19 individuals, some who had been sleeping on the streets for many months.

“Now, such is the demand we are facing, even more space has been needed for single people with no place to stay.

“As a temporary measure, and to cope with this upsurge in demand, another building in the city has opened to ensure that anyone who needs a place to shelter from the cold can have a place to stay.”

The council was criticised for using the old Toys R Us to house people after claims were reported that it was not fit to live in.

Horrifying scenes

Liberal Democrats member at Cardiff Council, Cllr Rhys Taylor, said at a full council meeting on January 25 that “no one should be expected to live in those sorts of conditions”.

Scenes of vomit, excrement and drug use were all reported on site.

Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said at the same meeting that she went to visit the site herself after those reports came out.

She said: “When I visited it was very clean. They have upped their cleaning regime.

“You have to understand that there are very complex people there… about 40 were coming off the streets, people who were rough sleepers.”

The cabinet member added most of the residents she spoke to were “extremely happy” and improvements have been made to the layout of the building.

She later went on to add: “As bad as it is, it is much better that we let those people in… than leave them out in the cold.”

The council spokesperson added: “Council staff will be on site at all times to support residents to access help and services, while we work with them to find a more permanent housing solution.

“The council is doing its best to support all those who need our services and support during this extremely challenging time.

Biggest build plan in Wales

“Alongside our council-homes new build programme, the biggest of its kind in Wales – we are also working on plans to boost the availability of affordable homes as quickly as possible across the city through our modular schemes.”

The number of families now residing in temporary accommodation in Cardiff is 701 – more than double the number in April 2021.

Two hotels are already in use in the city as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

It is expected the Toys R Us building will close as a temporary accommodation site in April.

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