A “perfect storm” of homelessness pressures could be coming down the track, a Swansea councillor has said, as colleagues approved a proposal to build or buy nearly 80 properties to help people in need.
Cllr Andrea Lewis confirmed to cabinet colleagues the authority had secured a £5.3 million share of a £50 million pot of Welsh Government funding.
“We were very successful with the bid – we are delighted,” she said.
The money will enable the council to buy one-bedroom flats, plus contribute towards a small number of bungalows, to support people at risk of homelessness with temporary or permanent accommodation.
It will also pay for the conversion of some family housing and social housing buildings to increase accommodation. Such schemes include creating six new units from commercial space at Leonard Charles House, Oxford Street, five extra units on High Street, and four at the former Bar Reef building, Walter Road.
The Welsh Government funding underpins a drive to get homeless people and those at risk of homelessness a roof over the head. It was launched in the early part of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has definitely been of benefit for us in Swansea,” said Cllr Andrea Lewis, who has the housing portfolio.
She said a “small handful of people” had resisted offers of support.
Cllr Lewis said the end of the Government’s furlough scheme this month, plus a shortage of one-bedroom accommodation and cases of domestic abuse and family breakdown, were creating “a perfect storm in increasing our homeless levels”.
Cllr Lewis thanked officers for submitting the bid within a 20-day time frame and said it would be “extremely challenging” to spend the funding by March 31, 2021, which the council is required to do.
In addition the authority also secured £297,400 of revenue funding to support people facing homelessness. This will pay for intervention and rehousing workers, a substance misuse worker, a specialist homeless nurse and a part-time mental health nurse.
The work will be delivered with organisations such as The Wallich and Goleudy.
Cllr Lewis said the council would apply for further Welsh Government funding at the end of the financial year.
She added: “If it’s not available we will have to give careful consideration to funding it ourselves.”