The valleys. A great place to live, lovely sense of community, beautiful scenery and some great affordable houses.
Although most homeless issues are reported in the media refer to large cities and towns, unfortunately the South Wales Valleys also has an issue with homelessness. Although properties are more affordable it does not mean that everyone can afford to buy or rent a property in the Valleys.
Calon works in both Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil procuring properties to lease so that those that find themselves without a home, can stay in one of our leased properties until more permanent housing becomes available. This then allows the local authorities to work with people to save for rent in advance for a private rented property or bid for social housing.
We procured a property in a small Valleys town which was a lovey 2 bedroom property. The landlord was also pleased that their property would be used to assist people who needed immediate help.
However, two weeks into the lease we were asked to attend a meeting with local councillors regarding the use of the property.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that homeless people are drug addicts, have alcohol problems or cause anti – social behaviour and this was certainly alive and kicking at the meeting that I attended. In the meeting words like ‘half way house’ and ‘these people’ cropped up on a number of occasions! It was sad and quite upsetting to hear.
We explained that the house was much needed for those that the council had a statutory obligation to house albeit temporarily. We gave also gave them some scenarios in which the property would be used. We asked that if they had a daughter or son who was private renting and the landlord put up the rent so that it was unaffordable, would they like her or him to go into a safe secure home for a while whilst more permanent housing was sought, or live in a hostel or bed & breakfast? If they had a family member that was fleeing domestic violence and a safe temporary home could be found for them whilst more appropriate permanent accommodation was looked for, would that not be a good thing?
When all this was explained to them, it transpired that there was a great deal of anti-social behaviour in the street from a property a few doors down and as they were involved in trying to resolve the ongoing issue, they were afraid that us leasing the property to use as temporary accommodation would result in an increase of complaints from neighbours, because ‘homeless’ people were going to be placed there.
We reassured them that should there ever be any issues, then it would be dealt with in line with our policies and that enforcement action would be taken if there were any serious incidents.
I’m pleased to advise that since this meeting we have placed 4 households in the property whom have all been very appreciative that they were assisted into this property whilst waiting for more permanent accommodation and we have received no reports of anti-social behaviour.