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Homeless support in Wales in need of improvement, says Senedd Committee

09 Mar 2023 4 minute read
The makeshift bed of a homeless person in Cardiff. Picture by Ben Salter (CC BY 2.0)

Homeless support in Wales is in need a more joined up system which provides suitable accommodation and better support, according to a Senedd Committee.

The Local Government and Housing Committee explored the issues faced by homeless people in Wales and reported a myriad of barriers preventing them from getting back on their feet.

During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Welsh Government operated a ‘no one left out’ approach to homelessness where everyone who needed shelter was given it.

The Committee heard that the success of this policy, which has helped many people who would previously have fallen through the cracks, has inadvertently put a huge amount of strain on the system – especially in temporary housing.

One of the most concerning pieces of evidence the Committee received was the unsuitability of the temporary accommodation offered to people facing homelessness.

The report describes how recovering substance users are often expected to share facilities with active users leading to people choosing to sleep rough to remove themselves from the situation.

Wayne, 52, has lived on the streets since he was 15 years old and has stayed in different hostels and other temporary accommodation over the years.

He said, “When you’ve hit rock bottom and there’s no one there to help you, it’s a stark horrifying reality.

“It was good to get off the street but there’s no support, you’re just housed, that’s it. There’s no counselling to talk through what’s going on and there’s no support for addiction.

“It was only when I finally got that proper help that I managed to get back on my feet. I’ve got my own flat now, I’ve stopped using drugs and I’ve got my daughter back in my life.”

The report found that a lack of one-bedroom homes has led to longer stays for people in temporary accommodation especially if the individual needs extra support, sharing a house with other people is often not a viable option.

Developers

The Committee heard the lack of housing is due to developers prioritising building more profitable, larger houses over smaller units.

The report has called on the Welsh Government to urgently explore all options that would increase the availability of one-bedroomed accommodation in Wales.

Housing options for people with complex needs such as addiction is limited and many local authorities – who manage public housing provision across Wales – are having to use B&Bs and hotels.

This has led to whole families being ‘housed’ in single hotel rooms. Not only is it cramped and offers little privacy; but those expected to live there have no access to kitchens or have a limited internet connection.

Tai Pawb told the Committee that the use of refuges and hostels has increased by 18 per cent, whilst the use of B&Bs as temporary accommodation has increased by over 474 per cent.

Some people are expected to stay in temporary accommodation for months, with no updates on how long it will be before they’re able to secure more suitable, permanent housing.

In limbo

The report urges the Welsh Government to work with local authorities to better communicate people’s housing status to them and how long their stay is likely to be to avoid people being left “in limbo”.

John Griffiths MS, Chair of the Local Government and Housing Committee said: “There are thousands of people in Wales who are homeless but, unfortunately, the support and accommodation being offered to them is in need of considerable improvement.

“Time after time, we heard deeply concerning stories of families living in single hotel rooms for months with no idea when they would receive a suitable home.

“On top of this, the staff on the ground who are supporting extremely vulnerable people and dealing with complex situations every day are at breaking point.

“We know that there isn’t a simple solution to fix the numerous problems in the system, but the current situation is unsustainable.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
19 days ago

In the Senedd expansion program could we have a dedicated Minister for Joined-up Thinking…

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
18 days ago

This is ridiculous. We need to house those taking part in the ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ scheme first.

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