On 5 November 2020, Welsh Government published its Statistical Release August 2020 – Homelessness and rough sleeping during COVID-19.
There has been an incredible collective effort by Welsh Government, local authorities and third sector organisations, working in partnership during the pandemic to get everyone inside and safe.
COVID-19 has highlighted the huge inequalities in Wales when it comes to a home.
But, as hotel accommodation closes, and the temporary measures put in place to accommodate people during lockdown end, we are sadly seeing more and more people returning to the streets.
The work done during COVID-19 was huge – but let us be clear – we haven’t ended homelessness in Wales.
A huge amount of money has been spent temporarily accommodating people but, in many cases, not providing them with homes.
Before the pandemic, our Chief Executive Lindsay Cordery-Bruce worked with the Minister appointed Homelessness Action Group to make a series of recommendations to Welsh Government about how homelessness could be solved.
The pandemic meant that we all had to pull together to get people inside, but now that the acute crisis has subsided, we need more than ever to implement those recommendations, and we need to act fast.
We need to take this opportunity to bring about the structural, social and political changes needed to ensure we don’t go back to how things were.
Our Rough Sleepers Intervention Teams across Wales are supporting up to 30 people on the streets across Wales every day.
Nothing like the 130 people we were seeing daily before the pandemic, but still 30 people too many – at any time – let alone during a pandemic.
People have been accommodated during the pandemic in hotels, B&Bs, emergency accommodation, pods, anywhere there was space. But these are not long-term sustainable homes.
People need to be empowered to rebuild their lives and supported into homes in the community.
Nobody wants to live in a hotel for four, six, eight months surviving on food parcels. It’s not sustainable.
The reasons people become homeless in the first place; trauma, mental health, relationship breakdown, poverty – those issues still exist and are in fact even more prevalent due to the pandemic.
We need to work together as businesses, organisations and communities to tackle these huge inequalities, and Welsh Government needs to act on the recommendations of the Homelessness Action Group and act quickly.
The statistics released today show that acting quickly is good, but those actions also must be sustainable.
Only then can we truly solve homelessness in Wales.