- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Categories: Latest News, Press Releases
MIKE HEDGES AM WELCOMES GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON HOMELESSNESS.
Speaking after the Assembly, Mike Hedges AM said … ‘I met with some people from Swansea today who have had experience of being homeless; it was interesting to hear of their experiences of sleeping rough and sleeping on friends floors; it brought home to me again that we all need to play our part in ensuring that people have a safe place to live. I am therefore pleased that the Welsh Government have committed to doing more to address the housing crisis in Wales. I am pleased that councils in Wales, including my own in Swansea are building housing again but they need to do so on a much larger scale. I also support bringing empty properties back into use – it makes no sense to have houses empty often for years on end when there is such a shortage.
I am sure that the plans outlined today by the Housing Minister will build on the work already undertaken and I look forward to following the progress of the work outlined by the Minister’
I very much welcome the Minister’s statement. Homelessness is complicated and is caused by a number of different events. A job loss coinciding with splitting up with a partner can quite easily make somebody homeless who never thought that was ever likely to happen to them.225
Whilst people often equate homelessness with rough-sleeping, many more homeless people sleep on sofas and floors of friends and family or are in temporary accommodation. The most important thing—and I agree with the Minister—is to stop people becoming homeless in the first place by early intervention—prevention, an emergency response and housing, accommodation and support, then the provision of housing and ongoing support as a means of moving people out of homelessness.226
For some homeless people, providing a house or flat will not solve their problems. Their problems are far greater than that, and all you’re doing is putting them up to fail. You move them into a house or a flat that they’re unable to cope with. I feel what the Minister said about 18-year-olds; at 18, I was not capable of looking after myself in any way whatsoever, and I think that to send them out, give them a flat and wish them luck is always going to end, or in very many cases, with a lot of failure.227
I think I’d like to add that there’s good work done by charities such as the Wallich, including their cross-border women’s project in Birchgrove, Swansea. But does the Minister agree that, until we start building more council houses, get empty houses back into use and until the supply of housing meets housing demand, then we are always going to have some form of homelessness, because what we’ve got is out of kilter at the moment? There is far more demand than there is supply. I know the Government puts money into the demand side of housing, but if we could put more money into the supply side so that we actually get sufficient housing, we could end up in a virtuous circle, rather than the vicious one we’re in now.