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Organisations take homelessness provision campaign to the Senedd

Senedd. Credit: Welsh Government

A roundtable was held at the Senedd earlier this month that saw representatives from organisations with first-hand experience of supporting people impacted by homelessness come together to call for change across the sector.

The event was organised by Cardiff based housing and support provider, Taff Housing, and saw representatives from The Wallich, The Bevan Foundation, Llamau, Community Housing Cymru, The Salvation Army and Cymorth Cymru join forces in a collaborative effort to raise awareness of the support needed for those experiencing homelessness.

Chaired by Cardiff Central MS Jenny Rathbone, the roundtable highlighted the action required by Welsh Government to address the longstanding problem. With Taff Housing and the other organisations agreeing that an increase in funding was required for homelessness services, with a particular focus on more consistency of service across local authorities. They also agreed that there was a need for more sufficient housing supply by addressing a collection of barriers including planning constraints, under-occupancy, and empty homes. Lastly, all agreed that there needs to be a real shift in focus from reactive spend towards proactive measures aimed at prevention.

Helen White, CEO of Taff Housing said, “Having a home is a right, not a privilege. As a housing association and support provider, we have a responsibility to ensure our tenants can access safe, affordable homes.

“The solution to the problem of homelessness across Wales is not straightforward. It is very complex and there is no simple answer, but by collaborating with other organisations that are close to the issue means that we can campaign for change, where it is needed.

“It is reassuring to see that tackling homelessness is a top priority for the new Cabinet Secretary for Housing and that she is looking to address key issues like planning. Whilst we welcome this, as we discussed there are other ways of solving the housing problem that involves more than simply building new ones. We would like to see additional efforts aimed at tackling empty homes and underoccupancy, bringing derelict building back into use, and the instigation of more proactive prevention measures, if we are to make a real change.”

Chelsea Coop from Taff Housing added: “As someone who has first-hand experience of the anxiety and stress that comes from being faced with homelessness, it was great to take this discussion to the Senedd. I was able to offer a different perspective and provide an insight that others didn’t have.”

Jenny Rathbone, who also chairs the Senedd’s Equality & Social Justice Committee, said “Staying focussed on the importance of Housing First and how the strategy saves lives as well as money is essential as Welsh Government hones its response to the recent consultation on their Homelessness White Paper. Hearing from the grassroots who are supporting those impacted by homelessness is crucial to ensuring a partnership approach to this challenging issue.”

In the meantime, Welsh Government has committed to injecting an additional £13m into the Housing Support Grant for 2024/25 and will be investing £210 million in homelessness prevention

Helen White added “While this funding is welcome, with 12,500 families assessed as homeless from 2022/2023 combined with the continuing cost of living crisis, action needs to be taken to invest in the right provisions and services to help those impacted.”

Wales based Taff Housing owns and manages over 1500 homes across Cardiff, providing 4000 people with somewhere to call home. The housing association also deliver a range of specialist support, including young people and family supported accommodation, community based floating support and specialist community relocation schemes.

It also offers tenants financial support and money advice and tenancy support services in the community where they help people to access education, training, and employment, as well as physical and mental health services to help prevent the threat of homelessness.