Homelessness could rise by a third in Wales, charity warns

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Homelessness in Wales could rise by a third in the next five years unless the Welsh Government takes a long-term approach, a charity has said.

Welsh Government figures show 10,884 households were assessed as homeless during 2016-17 and 4,500 of those households had accommodation provided.

Crisis said 300 people slept rough last year while 3,100 households were living with friends and 900 in hostels.

The Welsh Government said an increased focus on prevention had helped.

But it recognised "there is more to be done", announcing an extra £2.1m to tackle youth homelessness and pledged to build 20,000 new affordable homes by 2021.

The Crisis research, carried out by academics at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, also claimed 200 households were living in "unsuitable temporary accommodation" and 600 households were living in "other circumstances", including squats, women's refuges, night shelters and sleeping in tents.

Welsh Government figures showed 9,210 households in 2016-17 were threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

More than 2,000 households were assessed as "unintentionally homeless" and in priority need, with 81% finding settled suitable accommodation.

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The report said if current government policies continued, "detailed economic modelling" showed the most acute forms of homelessness were "likely to keep rising".

It said sofa surfing in Wales was expected to rise by 48% in the next five years while the number of households in "unsuitable temporary accommodation" was predicted to double.

"The problem is only going to get worse with every year that passes," said Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes.

The Welsh Government has pledged a number of initiatives to tackle people becoming homeless in the first place but Crisis wants a plan to "end homelessness for good".

"With the right support at the right time, it doesn't need to be inevitable," said Mr Sparkes.

"There are solutions, and we're determined to find them and make them a reality."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "An evaluation report of our homelessness legislation published on Tuesday found the increased focus on prevention introduced under the Housing (Wales) Act has helped prevent homelessness for a larger number of people than previously.

"We are committed to an ambitious target of providing an additional 20,000 affordable homes during this term of government and are working closely with local authorities, housing associations and the private sector to achieve this."

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