Welsh rough sleepers rise by up to a third as Crisis look to Housing First

While the number of people on the streets continues to rise in Wales, homelessness charity Crisis has called on the government to adopt a long-term strategy

Rough sleeping in Wales has risen by up to 30 per cent, according to new research by Crisis, and the charity claim a new long-term strategy could help solve the issue.

The Homelessness Monitor report concludes that rough sleeping has grown in the past 12 months – going from 240 people in 2015 to 313 by the end of 2016.

A total of 10,884 households were assessed to be homeless during 2016-17 while 4,500 saw accommodation provided.

The figures urged Crisis to call on the government to adopt a Housing First approach – this works by providing some of the most vulnerable homeless people with their own home to give them with a stable base and strong support from specially trained staff.

But the independent study, carried out by Herion-Watt University and funded by Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, insists that the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 has seen a reduction in two types of homelessness since its inception in 2015.

Almost two-thirds of households who were at risk of becoming homeless in the last year have been saved through council intervention as a result of the new bill, claims the report.

Interviews found that positive cultural changes within local authorities were more prevalent with staff providing a better, more preventative-based service and more supportive environment for applicants, particularly single people.

But the rise in the number of rough sleepers was not the only sign that there is still progress to be made.

The majority of local authorities across Wales indicated a rise in demand for their housing services with the number of households placed in temporary accommodation increasing by seven per cent.

We’re calling on the Welsh Government to adopt proven approaches such as Housing First so together we can make homelessness in Wales a thing of the past

And the legislation is still struggling to prevent people from falling through the cracks with 19 per cent of homeless households insisting that they are still not getting the help they need from authorities while more than 41 per centinsisted that they were satisfied.

As a result of the findings, Crisis are calling for the UK and Welsh government to make a concerted effort to tackle rough sleepers, insisting that the they have benefitted the least from the legislative change and that a strategy incorporating the Housing First model should be adopted.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “This is undoubtedly the most positive of the homelessness monitors we have published to date. The new legislation is clearly improving the support for homeless people in Wales.

“It’s great that the Welsh Government has pledged to build more affordable homes, tackle youth homelessness, and improve homelessness prevention. But there are still far too many people slipping through the net and losing their homes or sleeping rough on the streets – and that just isn’t right.

This is undoubtedly the most positive of the homelessness monitors we have published to date

“That’s why we’re calling on the Welsh Government to adopt proven approaches such as Housing First so together we can make homelessness in Wales a thing of the past.” 

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, lead author, said: “The evidence from Wales shows how effective the new legislation is in taking early action and preventing homelessness.

“The findings chime with the recent interim evaluation published by the Welsh Government but there are clear signs that some groups are slipping through the safety net and more needs to be done to address rough sleeping.”