Following the publication of the first report from the Homelessness Action Group, Housing Minister Julie James has committed to immediate action in response to their short-term recommendations to help more rough sleepers off the streets this winter.
The Minister has also welcomed the report’s recommendations on longer term measures to address and prevent rough sleeping and committed to further action on these in the near future
The group, which includes a range of experts from the sector working to tackle homelessness in Wales, is led by Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis UK.
Recommendations from the report include:
- focusing in particular on tackling rough sleeping in Swansea, Cardiff Newport and Wrexham
- ensuring there is enough appropriate emergency and temporary accommodation for people who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough
- funding and training enough assertive outreach workers to support people off the streets and into appropriate accommodation this winter
- overcoming legal and procedural barriers and misunderstandings that currently prevent people sleeping rough from accessing the support that they need; Housing associations, councils and the Welsh Government should use their collective resources to maximise the number of social homes available to be let to homeless households, in particular to those people who would otherwise sleep rough
- making sure the public know how to help people who are homeless
Jon Sparkes said:
Having a safe and decent home is a basic need and it’s simply wrong that there are people across Wales who do not have one.
Rough sleeping is the most extreme and dangerous form of homelessness, so I’m pleased that the Welsh Government, local councils and support services will work together urgently this winter to help more people away from the street and into settled accommodation.
The best way to deal with rough sleeping – and all forms of homelessness – is to stop them happening in the first place. That’s why I’m looking forward to the next phase of the Action Group’s work, which will make recommendations on the steps we need to take in Wales to end homelessness for good.
Julie James said:
I’m extremely grateful to the group for working so quickly to produce recommendations to put into practice this winter.
Rough sleeping is an issue across all areas of Wales – however I accept the group’s suggestion that we should focus on the four areas where rough sleeping numbers are at the highest, whilst not excluding or ignoring needs elsewhere.
I’m under no illusion that this is a problem we can solve overnight, but I’m determined that we will match the Homelessness Action Group’s pace and energy in our response this winter. We are already working to put these recommendations in place.