Posted: Thu 5th Nov 2020

Fears homelessness in could get worse as full impact of coronavirus yet to hit Flintshire

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 5th, 2020

Fears have been raised that homelessness in Flintshire could get worse after a council officer warned the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic was yet to be felt.

A recent report shows there has been a “significant increase” in those who need emergency housing in the area, jumping from 11 at the start of the crisis to 38.

Flintshire Council has already taken some action to address the problem, including installing seven cabins at a shelter in Queensferry to provide accommodation and keep people off the streets.

However, the authority’s housing and prevention service manager Martin Cooil said the economic toll of lockdown measures and job losses was likely to increase over time.

Speaking at a virtual scrutiny comittee meeting yesterday (Thursday 5 November), he said: “The impact has been huge so far, but we have yet to feel the full impact in terms of housing need and homelessness as a result of the pandemic.

“There have been some significant protections that have assisted us and shielded us from an increase in homelessness, such as the furlough job support scheme, the extension of notice periods and so on.

“But we know financial hardship is a massive issue within the community and is likely to drive homelessness in the next six, twelve or eighteen months, if not longer.”

The report presented to members of the council’s community, housing and assets scrutiny committee shows single people have been hit worst by the crisis with a lack of suitable accommodation available to meet their needs.

As a result, plans have been created to buy up empty properties and bring them back into use as one-bed units.

Meanwhile, two sites have been identified to build new one-bedroom houses in the area after the authority was awarded just over £1m of Welsh Government capital funding.

Mr Cooil said it would also be using a £186,000 revenue grant to look at ways of preventing homelessness, including by providing financial assistance, addressing mental health issues and rehousing people more quickly.

Committee chair Ian Dunbar praised the work carried out by officers, but also stressed the need to support individuals stuck on the council’s housing waiting list.

He said: “We’ve had a significant increase in cases for emergency housing, mostly from single people.

“With a lot of those, it’s through no fault of their own that they’re homeless.

“It’s good to see you’re working with other partners to ensure that we’ve got some suitable housing.

“It’s not only homeless people we’ve got to look at; we’ve got a list of people that have been on the waiting list for a long, long time.

“You can’t just ignore those because they are in such need because they’re living in places that are uncomfortable.”

Councillors voted to support the authority’s approach to tackling homelessness at the end of the debate.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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