Posted: Fri 14th Apr 2023

Flintshire Council faces homelessness challenges amidst cost of living crisis and housing pressures

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The cost of living crisis and state of the housing market is placing pressure on Flintshire Council’s resources for tackling homelessness. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The authority’s community and housing scrutiny committee will meet next week to receive an update on homelessness and rough sleeping in the county. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

According to the report, a rise is anticipated in the number of homeless people as the cost of living crisis and competition in the private renting sector start to bite. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The report, written by the council’s chief housing officer, states: “External factors associated with the cost-of-living crisis and housing market conditions are increasing the levels of homelessness place more burden operationally and financially on the council.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The local private sector housing market is seeing significant challenges with fewer properties available each year and many landlords leaving the market.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This creates homelessness as properties are sold, residents asked to leave and the availability of fewer properties resulting in them being increasingly unaffordable.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Changes to the Housing Wales Act 2014 and specifically the introduction of an eleventh category of Priority Need for rough sleeping and those at risk of sleeping rough, sees a sustainment of the ‘no one left out’ approach adopted during the Covid pandemic and now firmly establishes the principle on a legal footing and as standard practice in Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“As a result, more people and particularly single people, will be owed accommodation duties significantly increasing demands and cost on already stretched homeless accommodation.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Data contained within the report shows an increase in the number of people in Flintshire presenting as homeless rising from 1,076 to 1,134 in the same 48 week period from 2021-22 to 2022-23. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The most common reasons for homelessness in the county are; relationship breakdowns (non-violent and violent), loss of private rented accommodation, and friends, relatives or parents no longer being able to provide accommodation. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

One positive highlighted in the report is the reduction in the number of rough sleepers in Flintshire since 2019. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

It adds: “In 2019 there were high levels of rough sleeping with much of this concentrated within the Deeside area and a significant number of referrals were received as a result. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“There are currently believed to be two rough sleepers out in Flintshire at the time of reporting. Appropriate advice and assistance continue to be extended to the two people concerned.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The report reflects the investment made and work carried out by the council in recent years to tackle the issue. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

It has purchased and refurbished a block of six flats in Connah’s Quay (four two-bed flats and two bedsits at The Swan) and has also built a further six flats (two one-bed in Duke Street, Flint and four one-bed in Park Lane, Holywell) which are due for completion next month. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

These properties used as homeless accommodation were part funded with grant funding from the Welsh Government. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The report adds: “Further plans are in place to develop a purpose-built Homeless Hub as a replacement to the existing Glanrafon Homeless Hub which has temporary planning permission until July 16, 2026. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“A potential site has been identified for the next Homeless Hub and initial designs and feasibility work is underway, as are discussions with Welsh Government in regard to potential for grant funding for this development. Plans will be shared with local ward members in the coming weeks.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The housing market nationally and locally is increasingly challenging and the availability of social housing is limited. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The private rented sector is increasingly unaffordable for many low-income households”, the report adds. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Those landlords who remain in the market have an abundance of prospective contract holders (previously tenants) to choose from and many residents face significant barriers to securing a home.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

A need for more flats is noted in the report, which councillors will discuss on Wednesday (April 19). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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