THE need for temporary accommodation for homeless people increased “significantly” during the covid pandemic with 69 Pembrokeshire households currently in such housing.
Chief housing officer Gaynor Toft said that at the end of March 2021 there were 69 households – single people, couples and families – in temporary accommodation compared to 19 at the same time in 2020.
Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s governance and audit committee were told on Tuesday, April 13 that 19 households were housed in local authority listed properties, 30 in B&Bs, five in council family accommodation and 15 in council owned housing stock.
The way homeless status was prioritised changed at the start of the first covid lockdown by Welsh Government, said Mrs Toft, and added to an increase in figures which amounted to 40 per cent, from 154 to 216 households.
There had been an increase in the number of temporary accommodation units being used and “without the assistance B&Bs and holiday accommodation providing support, the situation would have been more serious,” the committee heard.
She added although the number of rough sleepers in Pembrokeshire are low compared to other areas the pandemic highlighted the numbers of “hidden” homeless such as those sofa surfing with more of these people in temporary accommodation due to covid risks.
Work was underway with youth services to help prevent homelessness for those at greater risk, such as Looked After Children and specialist teams are identifying the reasons for repeated presentations of homelessness.
There had been 26 repeat presentations of three or more in the previous three years in 2018-19 but 126 in 2020-21.
Third sector providers had also been commissioned to offer support those at risk.
There were concerns that once hardship funding from Welsh Government ends that the increased demand will impact the department’s budget as well as if enough suitable accommodation – particularly one and two bedroom flats – can be built or provided.
Discussions with private developers as well as housing association organisations are being held to “ensure the right mix of accommodation is being built,” added Mrs Toft.
She said there were also concerns about the “length of time if would take to build the right scale” so other options were also being considered.