Property owners in Wales are to be offered money to rent to homeless people in a bid to end the housing crisis, the Welsh Government has announced.
Climate change minister, Julie James MS, is to unveil the Ending Homelessness Action Plan at the Senedd on Tuesday.
Part of the strategy will include offering a five-year funding pot worth £30 million to help local authorities encourage people to allow their properties to be used as affordable homes.
Under the Private Rented Sector Leasing Scheme, property owners will be able to lease their houses to councils so they can be leased to those who are at risk of, or are experiencing, homelessness.
In return, landlords will be offered guaranteed rent and money to carry out improvements on the premises.
Tenants will then benefit from a long-term let of between five to 20 years, and be given help to improve their situation such as mental health support or debt and money management advice.
It is said the programme will sit alongside the Government’s aim to build 20,000 low carbon, good quality and affordable homes for rent over the next five years.
Ms James said her priority is to build upon the successes over the pandemic and “prevent homelessness and ensure that when it does happen, it is rare, brief and unrepeated”.
The minister also thanked those working to alleviate homelessness for their “extraordinary work”.
“They transform lives, they offer hope and they have undoubtedly saved many lives throughout this pandemic. They should be proud of all they have done and continue to do,” she added.
The plan is said to have been shaped by the recommendations of the Homelessness Acton Group, a panel made up of independent experts, which focused on the issues that lead to homelessness.
Believed to be a holistic approach to the homelessness problem in the country, it signifies the Government’s shift to a policy of rapid rehousing, meaning the aim is that people should be in temporary accommodation for the shortest possible time.
Jonathan Lewis, 42, from Swansea, found himself sofa surfing or sleeping in his car for extended periods of his adult life after facing challenges in his childhood, including domestic violence and being in the care system.
Mr Lewis described how after being given the keys to his own home in 2018, a one-bedroom flat leased to him by Caredig – a housing association – he has been able to turn his life around.
Mr Lewis said: “I’ve never had a house, I’ve never had my own property – it’s given me the push I needed – it’s given me something I don’t want to lose. Someone has put that trust in me, that I’m worthy enough to have something decent in life.
“Now I have my own home. And I pay for this with the money I earn. It makes me really proud.”
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said everyone should have the same opportunity as Mr Lewis and welcomed Wales’ plan.
He said: “This plan rightly recognises that the work done to ensure no one is left out of support must continue, as must the joined-up approach across services in ending homelessness as a public health issue.
“It shows how we can put the measures in place to prevent homelessness wherever possible and respond as quickly as possible when people lose their homes.
“We look forward to working with the Welsh Government, councils, health services and other charities in putting it into action.”
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