Archbishop Calls For Action To Help The Homeless

Urgent action is needed to tackle homelessness and the serious shortage of affordable homes in Wales, the Archbishop of Wales told the Welsh Assembly Government yesterday.

Dr Barry Morgan called for investment and clear leadership to tackle homelessness, when he presented the summary findings of Shelter Cymru’s year-long inquiry into housing and homelessness in Wales to First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

Dr Morgan, who chaired the inquiry, said he was shocked by the findings that there are more than 20,000 homeless people in Wales and more than 35,000 children living in unfit housing.

He urged the Government to make affordable housing a priority, saying that investment must be secured to build and improve housing and a new approach must be delivered to tackle the crisis.

Shelter Cymru set up a commission of inquiry last year to assess the extent of homelessness. More than 160 people gave evidence to the panel and spoke of their experiences of living in poor conditions and the effect that had on their children, families and wider social circle. Evidence was also taken from agencies working with homeless people and from politicians and local government representatives.

Dr Morgan said, ‘The inquiry brought many different issues to the commissioners but it was listening to the experiences of individuals who were homeless or living in appalling conditions that made the most impact on us. The key recommendations contained in this report highlight the urgent matter of affordable housing and investment which we hope the new Welsh Assembly Government will prioritise.

‘We hope that the new Government of Wales shows leadership and political will on the need for more affordable homes and a determination to end homelessness once and for all.’

The final report of the inquiry will be launched during Shelter Cymru’s annual conference in June.

The Assembly Government said it had demonstrated its commitment to tackling homelessness through increases in grants over the last seven years. A spokesperson said, ‘In 1999-2000, £650,000 was awarded to such projects. In 2006-07, the Welsh Assembly Government allocated £6,333,000 in grants to homeless projects.’