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Council says it won’t use former toy superstore to house homeless people next winter

14 Mar 2024 3 minute read
TOYS ‘R’ US – Olympian Drive Cardiff. Photo via Google

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Cardiff Council has said there are currently no plans to use a former Toys R Us site in the city as accommodation for homeless people next winter.

The former toy shop in Grangetown ceased to operate as temporary additional emergency accommodation on March 4.

It was repurposed in 2023 to help rough sleepers off the streets during the colder winter months.

Poor living conditions

However, the local authority was criticised at the beginning of 2024 after allegations emerged of poor living conditions there, with scenes of vomit, excrement and drug use all reported on site.

Since those reports came out, a council cabinet member, Cllr Lynda Thorne, told her fellow councillors at a meeting in January that vast improvements were made at the site and that it was “very clean” when she visited.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The Council opened its additional emergency accommodation in response to the unprecedented number of people needing a place to stay over the winter.

“It was only ever intended to be used for a short period, when, as we anticipated, there was a surge in demand for emergency accommodation during the colder months.

“Over recent weeks, the number of clients staying there has gradually reduced and the additional space is now no longer needed.

“Clients have been allocated places in existing provision, via the single person’s gateway – the co-ordinated approach to supporting single people experiencing homelessness in the city.

“While the use of this additional emergency accommodation will be reviewed as part of our planning processes to deal with future demand, there are currently no plans to use this site for emergency accommodation next winter.”

Temporary accommodation

At January’s full council meeting, councillors were told that another building in the city, in addition to the Toys R Us site, was opened as temporary accommodation.

Cardiff Council would not reveal the location of the new accommodation site, but it said that it had been opened as a temporary measure to cope with an “upsurge in demand”.

The site is still operating at the moment.

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

The number of families residing in temporary accommodation was 701 at January, 2024 – more than double the number in April, 2021.

Cardiff Council said the emergency accommodation it set up over the winter months led to homeless people, who would not normally access support from the council, coming forward for assistance.

The local authority added that it also resulted in the number of rough sleepers in Cardiff reducing by 50%.

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