Welsh Government has unique chance to end homelessness
published on 1 Jun 2020
A £20 million Welsh Government fund to transform homelessness services could see an end to rough sleeping in Wales. However, the focus must be on tackling the reasons people end up homeless as well as providing housing warns The Salvation Army.
The package was announced by the Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James and is in addition to £10 million to house 800 people as part of emergency measures to provide emergency shelter during the coronavirus.
Yvonne Connolly, Regional Manager of The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services Unit for Wales and the South West, said:
“This the biggest opportunity we have had in a generation to make a lasting change to the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Wales and the Welsh Government has made huge progress in housing 800 people during the pandemic.
“Wales has led the way in showing other nations how to support people who are homeless during the pandemic and to ensure this progress is maintained, it will be vital for the Welsh Government to lay out how it intends to use this new £20m fund to secure long-term housing for people who have been homeless. We would like to see wraparound care with access to services that will help people address the reasons they fell into a spiral of homelessness.
“People have many complex reasons why they sleep rough and needing a roof over their heads is just one part of it. Any investment in housing also needs sustained funding so long-term wrap around support is available for people to deal with the reasons they ended up on the streets which often include poor mental ill health, fleeing domestic violence, childhood trauma or addictions”
The Salvation Army has welcomed the Welsh Government’s innovative use of supported housing to move people away from homelessness in recent years and says finding suitable accommodation for them is key to maintaining that direction after lockdown.
Yvonne Connolly continued: “The Welsh Government is moving towards a housing-led approach –like the Housing First programmes run by The Salvation Army in Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil, to ensure that people are able to move on and away from homelessness in Wales. Finding suitable accommodation for people who are moving on from homelessness will be essential in making that happen.
“The economic impacts of coronavirus are likely to impact Wales for a long time to come and it is vital that Welsh Government begins laying out its plans for how to end homelessness in Wales for good to ensure that this impact does not result in a new wave of people made homeless following the increased risk of things like eviction from the private rented sector. This should involve detailed planning on the housing and support required, as well as how this provision should be funded over at least the next five years.”