By Tony O’Riley-
The Welsh government has pledged £20m to tackle homelessness in Wales and ensure none of the rough sleepers in Wale return to the streets or end up in unsuitable accommodation.
The £20m of new funding is intended to build on that progress and to help change the approach in Wales to homelessness in the long term.
The Welsh Government intitially pledged £10m to help councils provide emergency accommodation for homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.
The money enabled councils to secure empty student accommodation, hotel rooms and B&Bs for use by rough sleepers to self-isolate and follow public health guidance on social distancing.
Over 800 homeless people have been houses since the beginning of lockdown.
Councils are being asked to plan to transform services and the accommodation system to help those currently in temporary accommodation to move to a longer term home, and to ensure dignified suitable options for those who face homelessness in the future.
One issue raised as a potential obstacle is that fact that not many landlords want to rent their homes to rough sleepers because of fear they may destroy their property or indulge in drugs there.
One solution suggested by homeless campaigners is for councils and various charities to vouch for various individuals, and individuals with a past history of substance misuse to be placed in accommodation with CCTV cameras where they can be monitored.
Many campaigners see the Coronavirus period which has seen most homeless people all over the UK housed, serve as an opportunity to end homelessness in the UK for good.
Announcing the funding ahead of a virtual summit on homelessness with local authorities, registered social landlords, health services and the third sector, housing and local government minister Julie James said:
“The collaborative effort of the sector to accommodate homeless people during the pandemic has been incredible.
“Getting over 800 people off the streets or away from unsuitable accommodation has not been easy but by working together we have made a big difference to the lives of these people.
“This does not, however, mean we have resolved homelessness in Wales. We have achieved a temporary reprieve, but it remains our goal to end homelessness and we will not see people forced back onto the streets.
“This crisis has provided us with a unique opportunity to change the services and change lives for the better and I am truly excited about this.
“This funding, together with the collaborative approach we have taken so far gives me confidence that we can now make a significant step towards achieving our goal of ending homelessness in Wales.