Wales: £10m emergency support for rough sleepers
The Welsh Government is making £10 million available to councils in Wales to help them to take immediate and direct action to protect the homeless and rough sleepers in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing minister Julie James said the additional funding will enable local authorities to secure the accommodation needed to ensure those without a home can be protected, supported, and isolated if necessary.
This could include the block purchase of B&B or hotel rooms, empty student accommodation and other premises to operate alongside existing provision. This provision will need to be managed and supported by the professionals working in this sector to ensure high quality support, hygiene standards and appropriate monitoring for symptoms and illness.
In addition, ministers are also taking action to ensure those who have no recourse to public funds, such as victims of domestic abuse and asylum seekers, are supported during the outbreak.
The law currently prevents ministers from offering these individuals certain types of support, including housing support. Local authorities have been directed to utilise alternative powers and funding to assist those who require shelter and other forms of support during the pandemic. This will ensure they are supported to stay safe and well.
Housing Minister Julie James said: “The coming weeks and months will be extremely difficult for us all, but for those who do not have the security of a place to call home and for those who work tirelessly to support them, this will be a particularly testing time. Many may not have access to the facilities that enable them to adhere to public health guidance on hygiene or isolation.
“The £10m in financial support I am announcing today will ensure people who are, or are at risk of, sleeping rough, and those who are in inadequate temporary accommodation, have the support and resources needed to protect themselves during the outbreak.
“We are also taking action to ensure everyone in Wales, regardless of their immigration status, can be supported to remain safe and well during this time.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that artificial barriers to doing the right thing are removed so that collectively we can respond swiftly and flexibly to this unprecedented situation.”
Welcoming the emergency support, Stuart Ropke, chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, said: “Nobody should be without warm and safe shelter. On a daily basis, housing associations work tirelessly to ensure people have access to the services and support they need, and in a crisis, it’s crucial this is made as quick and simple as possible.
“We welcome Welsh Government’s plans to ensure councils have the funding and power to support people, whatever their circumstance, during this uncertain and highly difficult time.”
This funding will form part of a wider support package for local authorities. Ministers will announce further details on this in the coming days.
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