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Cardiff faces a ‘housing emergency’

Cardiff is facing a housing emergency, the City Council has warned.

The council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, Lynda Thorne, told a recent meeting of the council that the city was experiencing an ‘incredibly challenging’ time, but the Welsh capital was not alone with other major cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh also declaring a housing emergency.

“Cardiff is at the eye of the storm of this issue in Wales,” she said. “It’s the most challenging time for housing in decades.

“We’re doing everything in our power to find a solution and a range of actions are being proposed to relieve these pressures.”

Due to a shortage of affordable housing, and home ownership being out of reach for many people, unprecedented numbers of families and individuals are experiencing homelessness in the city and need help from the council.

The council has increased the availability and quality of temporary accommodation in the city in recent years, so there are now around 1,700 temporary accommodation units for families, individuals and young people.  Two additional family homeless centres have been opened this year.

But this temporary accommodation is full, and new pressures are expected to place even more strain on services in the coming weeks and months.

Ms Thorne continued: “There’s no other way to describe the situation we are in other than an emergency. Our accommodation is full and services are flat-out supporting people who have no home of their own.

“We’ve been under pressure for many months now and have taken steps like strengthening homeless prevention services and increasing resources for move on from temporary accommodation but despite increasing the percentage of households prevented from becoming homeless,  each month we still have around 28 more families entering temporary accommodation than are exiting to permanent homes.

“Demand for affordable housing in Cardiff far exceeds supply. The high cost of private rented accommodation in the city has made it unaffordable for lots of people while home ownership is also out of reach for many.

“In addition to our good supply of temporary accommodation, we are using four hotels to cope with the high numbers of families needing support, and another hotel for single people has opened very recently, but even these measures are not enough to deal with the demand.”

A report outlining these severe housing pressures and a number of proposals to help alleviate the emergency situation will be considered by the council’s cabinet at its next meeting on Thursday (14 December).

Ms Thorne said: “We know pressures will worsen before things get better so we’ve developed proposals to help reduce demand as much as we can. This includes changes to how we currently support people needing homelessness services as well as plans to increase the amount of affordable accommodation we have available.”

The proposals include, where appropriate, offering some homeless households private rented accommodation outside of Cardiff where it is more affordable, and for social housing, making offers anywhere in the city to help people move on from temporary accommodation.

The report includes ambitious plans to speed up the building of more affordable homes.

The council plans to buy a large new-build, commercial property in the city centre that is suitable for converting into residential accommodation  and would deliver more than 84 family homes, with the opportunity to deliver 150 more flats on adjacent land.

In addition it is proposed to extend the successful use of innovative modular homes.

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