The Minister for Housing and Local Government for the Welsh government, Julie James, has confirmed up to £50m to support projects across Wales aimed at preventing homelessness.
The Welsh government says the funding will help provide people with safe and secure homes to make sure they do not fall into, or return to, homelessness.
It says it is reiterating its commitment to tackling homelessness, rehousing everyone who has been provided with emergency shelter during the Coronavirus pandemic and building on the initial £10m in funding announced in March by making additional £40m available for local authorities.
Wider homelessness support
The initial phase of the homelessness response focused on ensuring people had accommodation where they could self-isolate if necessary and could follow public health advice on basic hygiene, hand washing, and social distancing.
Phase 2, says the Welsh government, focuses on a longer-term approach to transform services, innovate, and build accommodation.
It says its ambition is to ensure everyone who received emergency accommodation during the Coronavirus pandemic has a “clear route” to permanent housing and provide high-quality accommodation to those threatened with homelessness in the future.
The Welsh government has also provided a package of support to make sure as many people as possible facing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic remain in their private-rented homes.
Last week, a temporary increase in the notice period for eviction was announced, providing greater protection from homelessness for tenants in private-rented accommodation and housing association accommodation.
In July, the Welsh government announced an extra £1.4m to help tenants boost their household income and manage problem debt, through the Single Advice Fund.
In addition, says the Welsh government, the new Tenant Saver Loan Scheme will provide an affordable way to cover rent arrears, or future months’ rent, reducing the risk of eviction and homelessness.
These loans will be paid directly to landlords and are available for tenants who were not in significant rent arrears prior to March 1st this year.
Phase 2 homelessness response
Newport Mind is due to receive funding from Phase 2 of the homelessness response to add a new floor to its offices with seven self-contained flats.
During a visit to the Newport Mind office, Julie James said: “The Coronavirus has shone a light on housing in a way that few of us have seen before and reminded us all of the fundamental importance of good-quality affordable housing, a safe and secure home and strong and cohesive communities where people want to live and work.
“The best way we can tackle homelessness is by preventing it in the first place. I have been clear that I do not wish to see anyone forced to return to the streets.
“We have a unique opportunity to change the services and change lives for the better – and make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated.
“We want to build on the success we have seen so far and change Wales’ approach to homelessness in the long term.”
James continued: “To that end, I have increased the overall homelessness Phase 2 funding to up to £50m, which clearly demonstrates the level of commitment we have to ensuring we can make a truly significant and transformational step-change towards achieving our goal of ending homelessness in Wales.
“Local authorities, working in partnership with third sector and other organisations have come forward with some highly ambitious, bold and innovative projects that not only draw on energy efficient, modern methods of construction but also join-up with other services, such as substance misuse, mental health, primary care and community safety.
“This reflects the fact that homelessness isn’t just a housing issue; it’s a public services issue and it’s about having access to those services where and when people need them. We’re not tinkering around the edges – this is about bold, long-lasting solutions.”
Read more on the homelessness crisis in the UK:
- SHR data shows 18% increase in homelessness applications in Scotland
- Riverside supports 16 rough sleepers into accommodation
- ‘Particularly disturbing’ report reveals thousands of high-risk offenders made homeless
Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “The council was working with established organisations to help as many people off the streets and into accommodation before the pandemic began but this priority became imperative during lockdown.
“This was not without its challenges for a number of reasons but it would not have been possible without the hard work and innovation of our housing team, our partners and the financial support given by the Welsh government.
“I share the minister’s ambition to end homelessness in Wales, and I’m delighted we have been able to work with Newport Mind on this fantastic new housing scheme as part of the homelessness Phase 2 funding.
“We know that eradicating rough sleeping and homelessness completely will not be easy but this is an important next step to transforming the lives of those who do not have a roof over their heads.”
Image: Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James during a visit to Mind in Newport