While the housing crisis worsens and council house waiting lists spiral, there’s good news: hundreds of new houses have been built in Cardiff.
They’re four inches high and hidden across the city for eagle-eyed residents to spot.
Cardiff housing association Cadwyn has put 400 tiny wooden houses across the city in a drive to get landlords to help people at risk of homeless.
They represent the 400 households who are added to Cardiff City Council’s waiting list for a new council house every month – on top of the 8,000 already on the list. Cadwyn wants private landlords to rent out properties through one of their leasing schemes for people at risk of losing their homes – that could be through illness, breakdown in relationship, difficulty paying a mortgage or rent, or domestic violence.
Naomi Carter now lives in a Cadwyn property with her family after her previous landlord decided to sell the property she was living in, leaving her with nowhere to go.
“The time we had to vacate was getting closer and it worried me a lot, because I have four children and becoming homeless was just not an option,” she said.
Who's on their morning commute on this famous trail this morning? Find yourself one of #The400 houses to decorate and share with us. Help raise awareness for the need to reduce the number of people on the waiting list for safe and secure homes in #Cardiff pic.twitter.com/Fnuv33XPXd
— Cadwyn Housing (@CadwynHA) August 13, 2019
“Cadwyn approached me and looked at what property would be suitable for a large family like ours. It was also important that we stayed in the area as my son has autism, so he doesn’t take to change very well. The effects on him and my other children would have been extremely stressful.
“There was a possibility that we could have been in a hostel. My eldest son is 18, so we would have been split up too.”
Cadwyn need more houses to keep up with the demand, despite having more than 400 leased with them currently.
Helen Armstrong, Cadwyn director, said the housing association has been leasing homes from private landlords for 14 years.
We're hiding #The400 wooden houses across Cardiff. They represent the 400 families and individuals added to the waiting list for housing each month. Keep your eyes peeled, you never know where they'll be popping up! Find them, decorate them and share your creations with us. pic.twitter.com/SOQ2OfLyRM
— Cadwyn Housing (@CadwynHA) August 12, 2019
She added: “We are well experienced in looking after your property, guaranteeing your rent and we also give you the chance to help someone who otherwise might be homeless.”
The team hopes photos of the houses shared online along with the campaign hashtag #The400 will get people talking about the need to make more homes available for vulnerable people.
Cardiff City Council’s councillor for housing and communities, Lynda Thorne, backed the campaign.
Brilliant effort from our residents at Nightingale House to help highlight the need to reduce the number of people on the waiting list for safe and secure homes in Cardiff #the400 @CadwynHA pic.twitter.com/L61Kpfs5Po
— Kerry Rowlands (@Kerry_CadwynHA) August 13, 2019
She said: “We understand the importance of a good quality home for people’s wellbeing and while we are doing everything we can to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city, including building 2,000 new council homes and buying back property from the market, there is still significant pressures on the housing waiting list.”
Each of the 400 tiny houses released has been crafted by NuLife Furniture out of donated timber. The social enterprise refurbishes furniture to provide affordable fixtures and fittings for those who need it as well as giving volunteering and training opportunities.