blank
Connect with us

Property

Minister launches ‘Ending Homelessness Action Plan’ with new funding for private rented sector to play their part

Published

on

The Welsh Government say their commitment to end homelessness will be made clear in the Senedd later today as Climate Change Minister Julie James launches the Ending Homelessness Action Plan.

The Minister, who says that when homelessness occurs it should be ‘rare, brief and unrepeated’, will also announce a new £30million funding pot over five years for local authorities. 

Advertisement

Under the Private Rented Sector Leasing Scheme, private property owners will be encouraged to lease their properties to local authorities in return for a rent guarantee and additional funding to improve the condition of their property.

Local authorities can then use these properties to provide affordable and good quality homes for people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Tenants will benefit from the security of long-term tenures of between five to 20 years and help to maintain their stay in a long-term home, such as mental health support or debt and money management advice.

This sits alongside the Welsh Government’s ambitious plan to build 20,000 low carbon, good quality and affordable homes for rent over the next five years.

The Homelessness Action Plan builds on the unprecedented work undertaken by local authorities, social landlords, public services and third sector partners, who have provided accommodation and support for more than 15,000 people experiencing or threatened with homelessness during the pandemic.

Advertisement

The Plan has been shaped by the recommendations of the independent expert Homelessness Action Group, reflecting the changes required to prevent homelessness and make the shift to rapid rehousing so that people are in temporary accommodation for the shortest possible time.

The plan makes clear the need to prevent the problems that lead to homelessness from happening in the first place so homelessness can finally be ended in Wales.

The causes of homelessness extend well beyond access and availability of affordable homes. Ending homelessness is a cross-sector, cross-government priority relevant to health, social services, education, criminal justice, community services and our wider economy.

All this is recognised within the Action Plan, as is the need for wide-reaching legislative and policy reform.

Yesterday the Minister met Jonathan Lewis, 42, from Swansea. Jonathan has overcome huge challenges throughout his childhood, teenage and adult life and has finally been able to find and thrive in a secure home.

Advertisement

As an adult, Jonathan found himself sofa surfing or sleeping in his car for extended periods of his life.

After receiving a network of support, Jonathan now lives in a good quality and affordable one bedroom home rented to him by Caredig, and works full-time for the Wallich, helping homeless people like he once was, into supported housing.

Jonathan says: “The last few years have been the hardest and most rewarding I have ever had.

“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.

“I pinch myself that I’ve come from a bedsit to something so beautiful. I used to sofa surf or sleep in my car, but now I have my own home. And I pay for this with the money I earn. It makes me really proud. I keep it spotless!

Advertisement

“In my new job I support people in the situation that I’ve also been in, to show them that life can be different and here’s how to make it better. I just want to help people like I’ve been helped.”

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “Meeting Jonathan today – who really is an inspiration – just shows the importance to every-one of a decent, affordable and stable home. As well as all the hard work Jonathan has put in, services have worked together to give him the support he needs. This means Jonathan is now in a good position to provide this support to others facing hardship and potential homelessness.

“I want to say thank you again for the extraordinary work of those working in homelessness and housing support services across local authorities, registered social landlords and the third sector. Each and every day they work to help and support those without a home.  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. My priority now is to build on our successes to prevent homelessness and ensure that when it does, it is rare, brief and unrepeated”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It was a privilege to meet Jonathan today and hear how after being supported into his own home, he has truly flourished. Everyone should have that same opportunity, so we welcome this bold and vital plan to end homelessness in Wales. 

“The Welsh Government-led response to the pandemic has not only delivered decisive action to prevent and reduce homelessness during the public health emergency but has laid strong foundations for ensuring the long-lasting, positive impact of the progress made over recent years.  

Advertisement

“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.”

Liz Green, Consultant in Public Health, Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, and co-author of new Health Impact Assessment report, ‘No place like home?’, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic, and measures to reduce transmission of the virus, has had many wide-ranging impacts on the population of Wales, and has led to many people spending more time in their homes, highlighting the importance of good quality, affordable and secure housing.

“The need for security in relation to having, and keeping, a home and being surrounded by a safe and consistent home environment, and its impact on both physical and mental health and well-being has long been recognised. During times of uncertainty, such as in the COVID-19 pandemic, a home can provide a secure and stable base for individuals and households in order to help them live and work through and ultimately recover from the pandemic and its effects.

“The action plan will be timely for tackling inequalities, particularly those exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Jonathan’s Story

Jonathan Lewis, 42

Jonathan had a shaky start in life. His much-loved ‘Nana’, who he lived with alone, sadly passed away when Jonathan was just seven. He then experienced domestic violence within his family home at a young age.

Advertisement

He was exposed to shoplifting and petty crime in his day-to-day life growing up. Jonathan’s step-dad even used to take him on outings to break into cars at night. Though he says he has fond memories [aged eight] of eating beans on toast in the police station with his brother after his step-dad had been arrested, he ponders over how it all felt ‘completely normal’ to him at the time.

Jonathan put himself into care at 12 years old when home became ‘too much to handle’. As a result of this early trauma, he started using drugs.

At aged 15, Jonathan was sent to a young offenders’ institute for the first time.

Though Jonathan had briefly settled at aged 20 to have children, without support to address his early trauma he continued to use drugs to numb the pain of his past.

His mental ill health resulting from his past trauma were further compounded by homelessness, as he found himself sofa surfing and sleeping in his car. He was at an all-time low aged 30. Jonathan turned to heroin to self-medicate, resulting in further offending- for which Jonathan is very remorseful- and a longer spell in prison.

Advertisement

In prison, Jonathan worked hard, with access to support, to turn his life around. He signed up to a twelve-step drugs recovery programme and soon gained qualifications after taking part in cookery and other courses that were offered to him.

On leaving prison, Jonathan was helped to access supported housing for people dealing with past trauma and mental ill health, and picked up work here and there in kitchens and on building sites.

In 2018, Jonathan was given the keys to his new home. A one-bedroom property leased to him by Caredig.

Thanks to his determination, access to stable housing and support to address his early trauma, he’s been able to turn his life around.

Now, Jonathan works full-time for The Wallich, where he helps people experiencing homelessness, just like he did, into a permanent home, with the support they need to fulfil their potential.

Advertisement

Jonathan says: “The last few years have been the hardest of my life as I’ve had to mentally adjust. I don’t have drugs to numb the pain anymore so I have to face head on what has happened to me and the impact I have had on others too. They’ve been the hardest but the most rewarding I have ever had.

“I’ve never had a home, 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.

“I pinch myself that I’ve come from a bedsit to something so beautiful. I used to sofa surf or sleep in my car, but now I have my own home. And I pay for this with the money I earn. It makes me really proud. I keep it spotless!

“In my new job I support people in the situation that I’ve also been in, to show them that life can be different and here’s how to make it better. I have so much thanks for all the people that have given me a chance, trusted and enabled me to turn my life around. Now I just want to help people like I’ve been helped.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Construction

New support scheme launched to help those affected by fire safety issues

Published

on

By

A new support scheme for those facing significant financial hardship as a result of fire safety issues will launch today.

Welsh Government Climate Change Minister Julie James confirmed the Leaseholder Support Scheme would open at 10am on Monday, June 27.

Advertisement

The new scheme will provide tailored, independent advice to leaseholders in affected homes.

It is currently targeted at leaseholders who are owner occupiers and those who have become displaced residents, but the Minister confirmed applications would be monitored and eligibility kept under review to ensure ‘those who need support most have access to the scheme’.

The Minister said: “Today, we are launching the Leaseholder Support Scheme which will help those who need support the most.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the external partners and sector experts who have assisted us in developing this scheme at pace.

“Their support and hard work have been critical to establishing the right qualifying criteria and support processes.”

Advertisement

All leaseholders eligible for this scheme will now receive advice from an Independent Financial Adviser, with the costs fully covered by the Welsh Government.

The advice will support them in making the right choice for them and, if the sale of their property is the right route, the Welsh Government will enable them to sell their property at a fair market value.

The Minister continued: “Addressing fire safety defects in medium and high-rise buildings must go beyond cladding to make these buildings as safe as they can be.

“This has been our premise from the outset and, although it makes identifying, addressing and resolving issues significantly more complex, it is the right approach.

“There are no quick or easy fixes, but we cannot compromise on achieving the right, sustainable solutions.

Advertisement

“Anything less leaves the door open to the risk of further issues arising and it is important to me that, once these issues are resolved, they remain resolved.

“We must do this properly, to get it right now and for the future.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS has been critical of the Welsh Government response to the cladding crisis.

Ms Dodds said: “This announcement will help a very small number of people and continues to let property developers off the hook. Homeowners must see urgent action to make their buildings safe and the Welsh Government is still failing to do that.

“We have been campaigning on this issue for so long now and unfortunately it has become quite clear that there has been a lack of active engagement and communication with homeowners by Welsh Labour that has exacerbated the frustration that people feel with the situation.

Advertisement

“We cannot continue to have people living in unsafe buildings across Wales going to bed every night fearing for their safety. The longer this continues the greater the bills that sit on people’s kitchen tables are, bills the Welsh Government has stated cannot be recouped by homeowners.

“Labour need to stop shielding property developers and focus on delivering the urgent remediation work needed to make their buildings safe.”

Jane Dodds addresses a meeting of residents about cladding concerns in Swansea

The Welsh Conservatives meanwhile claim that only two weeks ago, the First Minister was unable to answer how much money has specifically been set aside to tackle dangerous cladding in Wales.

It said that data released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Labour’s Minister for Housing only met housing developers three times in 2021 for a grand total of 2 and a half hours.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “For years, people in Wales have been living in fear as a result of dangerous cladding with very little help coming from the Labour Government. People living in these flats don’t need advice, they need access to cash.

“While the UK Conservative Government has been leading the way in dealing with dangerous cladding, Labour in Wales has been too slow in rolling out funding.

Advertisement

“It is vital that financial support is made available so people are not forced to sell their flats to the Minister and can finally live in their homes without fear.

“Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay need to treat this issue with the severity it deserves and ensure people living in dangerous flats have access to cash quickly.”

Continue Reading

Construction

Specialists pool talents for city site’s regeneration

Published

on

By

Two specialist regeneration companies will work together to redevelop a key site in Swansea city centre.

Urban Splash have announced a joint venture with real estate developers Milligan for the transformation of the Swansea Central North site in the area of St Mary’s Church.

Advertisement

The news comes within weeks of Swansea Council appointing Urban Splash as its long-term partner for the wider £750m private sector funded transformation of sites that also include the Civic Centre and land along the riverfront in St Thomas.

Plenty of opportunities will be available for people to give feedback on plans for each site once proposals are developed in more detail.

Early proposals for the 5.5-acre Swansea Central North site at the former St David’s Shopping Centre include new office buildings, shared workspaces, apartments and an area for small creative businesses to make and sell their products.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Having companies of this quality on board is great news for the Swansea Central North site that links Oxford Street with the £135m Copr Bay district the council has already delivered.

“Both in the UK and overseas, Urban Splash and Milligan have delivered some of the most successful mixed-use schemes there are, bringing exciting solutions that meet the challenges of modern times to regenerate city centres and communities.

Advertisement

“The redevelopment of Swansea Central North and the other sites forming part of the overall £750m plans will deliver the kind of top class visiting, living and working experiences the people of Swansea and our businesses deserve, while also boosting our economy, creating jobs and helping attract even more investment to the city.”

Tom Bloxham MBE, chairman of Urban Splash and John Milligan, CEO of Milligan (Image: Swansea Council)

Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman and founder of Urban Splash, said: “We are incredibly excited about teaming up with Milligan to deliver our ideas for Swansea. Their expertise in leisure, commerce and market curation provides the type of innovative thinking local authorities will need as they embark on town centre transformations.

“This will build on all the great work Swansea Council has already led to regenerate Swansea as the city embarks on an exciting future.”

Milligan  have helped deliver or breathe new life into some of the most iconic mixed-use schemes across the UK and beyond. These include Camden Lock Market in London, Liverpool’s MetQuarter and the Mailbox in Birmingham. The company has also vowed to lead the way on the path to net zero emissions with sustainable, future-proofed, low energy schemes that benefit the environment, societies and communities.

The former St David’s shopping centre is the next part of the city centre set to be transformed (Image: Swansea Council)

John Milligan, CEO of Milligan said, “We have long admired the creative and long-term approach of Urban Splash. We first talked about doing something together over 15 years ago, so it has taken a while to put our first joint venture together. But the timing couldn’t be better. Now more than ever as we redefine our physical spaces and create new town centre destinations, agility and diverse thinking will help us create enduring places.

“Swansea is a city where a major regeneration programme is already under way, so we’re delighted to be working with Urban Splash and Swansea Council on such a key site in its city centre. As a city, Swansea has so much potential.”

Other schemes Milligan has delivered include the refurbishment of the Zubiarte shopping centre in Bilbao, as well as the transformation of the Maremagnum centre in Barcelona into a respected and exciting retail lifestyle destination.

Advertisement

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

Continue Reading

Construction

Tower crane helping transform former nightclub site

Published

on

By

Here’s how the former Oceana nightclub site in Swansea now looks as early construction works continue on a new office development there that will provide space for 600 jobs.

The first of two tower cranes is now on site at The Kingsway, with foundations being laid ahead of work starting to construct the building’s concrete frame.

Advertisement

Developed by Swansea Council with Bouygues UK as main contractor, the five-storey scheme is due for completion in the summer of 2023. The new development will be carbon zero in operation and worth £32.6 million a year to Swansea’s economy.

It will include 114,000 square feet of commercial floor space with flexible co-working and office opportunities for businesses in sectors like tech, digital and the creative industries.

The development is being part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal and supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

A huge new crane is helping transform former Oceana site (Image: Swansea Council)
A huge new crane is helping transform former Oceana site (Image: Swansea Council)
A huge new crane is helping transform former Oceana site (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism, said: “The arrival of the first tower crane on site is another sign of progress for this new development, which will further boost our economy by providing space for hundreds of workers and generating more footfall for city centre traders.

“We know there’s unmet demand in Swansea for this kind of modern, flexible workspace in growing sectors like tech and digital, so developments of this quality are key if we’re to keep these businesses in the city and encourage them not to relocate elsewhere.

“Due to be carbon zero in operation, this scheme will also help Swansea meet its net zero city ambition by 2050, while complementing the nearby ‘living building’ development being led by Hacer Developments and generating far better links between The Kingsway and Oxford Street.

Advertisement

“Discussions with potential tenants are also making continual progress as our £1bn regeneration of the city gathers even more pace.”

Artist’s impression of new office development (Image: Swansea Council)

Access to businesses nearby will be maintained throughout the construction works. Temporary surfacing has been deliberately laid in front of the development site, with permanent paving to be installed there once main construction work has finished.

Other features of the new development will include a green roof terrace and balconies overlooking the city centre and Swansea Bay.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News