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Council pledge to tackle homelessness in post Covid-19 times

SWANSEA Council has pledged to do all it can to ensure there will be no going back to homelessness for those who've been supported through the pandemic.

Housing

Hundreds of people who've sought help from the council over the last six months have been found a place to live, many of them moving on from temporary accommodation into longer-term homes.

Now the council has secured more than £5.6m of Welsh Government funding to provide up to 100 homes and much-needed social and mental health support to homeless people so they will not need to return to the streets or homelessness in the post Covid-19 era.

Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Homes, Energy and Service Improvement, said the council is working alongside its partners in the housing sector and support charities to fulfil its pledge that no-one needs to be homeless in the city.

She said: "In the last six months the council and its partners in the social housing sector and housing charities like The Wallich, Goleudy (formerly Caerlas) and Crisis have been working flat-out to support homeless people through the pandemic.

Ty Tom Jones staff
Staff at the new Ty Tom Jones centre
"In May we spent more than £450,000 creating a specialist centre at Ty Tom Jones in Alexandra Road to support rough sleepers and keep them safe from the virus. This is continuing to work really well.

"Demand for support remains high and more than 200 homeless people have been moved from temporary emergency accommodation to more suitable homes in the last six months."

She said: "Thanks to the extra funding from the Welsh Government we'll now be able to invest in providing up to 100 one-bedroom homes for homeless people along with the social support some of them will need to maintain their new lifestyles for the long-term."

Cllr Lewis added: "It has been a really challenging time for everyone involved and I want to offer my thanks to all the frontline and back-office staff at the council and among our partners who've made it possible to protect the vulnerable and homeless.

"What's been achieved would have been impossible without them."

In a report to Cabinet next week about the housing team's response to the Covid-19 crisis, members are being told that the majority of people presenting as homeless are single people.

The report says that it's anticipated the risk of homelessness will continue to rise into the winter due to issues such as rising unemployment and the ending of the UK Government's furlough scheme.

Of the £5.6m grant received from Welsh Government £5.3m of it will be used to provide around 100 one-bedroom properties aimed at supporting homeless into long-term accommodation. These will be provided as a mix between the council, its partners in the social housing sector and private rented accommodation.

The remaining cash will be spent on providing additional social and mental health support to those making the transition from temporary accommodation into more settled accommodation.

Cllr Lewis said: "Even before the pandemic the council had made a pledge that no-one living in Swansea would need to be homeless. At a time when people need their council more than ever we're leading the way in supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

"Covid-19 is still with us and we expect there to be challenges ahead. But Welsh Government funding and the support and commitment of the council and its partners show that we are side-by-side with homeless people and those at risk of losing their homes in tackling the issues they face."

The Council is also bidding for more than £1.5m from the Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme (IHP) which is now in its fourth round of funding support for councils in Wales and enables them to fund green energy elements to new and existing council properties.

Some of the grant the council is bidding for (£718k) will fund the inclusion of solar panels, ground source heating and battery storage at the new build schemes at Cedar Crescent and Creswell Road.

craigcefnparcA further £857k is being bid for to complete three more retrofit schemes in the city where green energy equipment is installed into existing council properties in Craig Cefn Parc, Garnswllt and Felindre.

The Council has recently completed a similar retrofit programme at Ffordd Ellen in Craig Cefn Parc where six isolated bungalows previously reliant on electric and oil heating methods have been upgraded with solar panels, ground source heating and battery storage. All the properties are part of the Council's 'homes as power stations' programme and all six bungalows now generate their own energy, resulting in much lower energy bill throughout the year.

Cllr Lewis added: "The success we have had with the recently completed retrofit scheme in Craig Cefn Parc has transformed the lives for the tenants living in the properties and we are keen to see this technology rolled out to even more council homes in the city."

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