The Archbishop of Wales is calling for a joint response to tackle the causes of homelessness as latest figures show an increase in rough sleeping across Wales.
The Archbishop, John Davies, who is chair of the charity Housing Justice Cymru, says the rise in people sleeping on our streets ‘strikes at the heart of how we love our neighbour’.
The latest figures, released by the Welsh Government today (Feb 1), show an increase of 33% on a single night in October 2017 and a 10% increase in numbers over a two week period during the same month. The number estimated to have experienced rough sleeping across a two week period in October 2017 stands at 345. Compared to the figure from a year ago, which stood at 313.
At the same time other forms of homelessness such as the number of people in temporary accommodation continues to rise. The most recent official statistics published by the Welsh Government show that during the July-Sept quarter of 2017 , 2,187 households in Wales were threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days. In the same quarter, 2,712 households were accepted as homeless and on Sept 30th 2017, 2,088 homeless households in Wales were in temporary accommodation.
Housing Justice Cymru is a Christian charity which works with churches to tackle homelessness and housing need. It helps churches and community groups set up and run Night Shelters and supports local churches to develop housing and homelessness projects. Its flagship project ‘Faith in Affordable Housing’ brings churches and the social housing sector together to develop homes on surplus church land.
The charity is seeking to expand its network of church Night Shelters, but says it needs more local authorities to engage with churches via charities like Housing Justice Cymru to make this happen.
The Archbishop is calling for greater joint working between churches, faith groups, the Welsh Government, local authorities and homelessness charities to address the causes of homelessness and to develop ways of supporting people away from rough sleeping.
He said, “The increase in people sleeping on our streets strikes at the heart of how we love our neighbour. It highlights more than ever the need for all of us to challenge the causes of homelessness and the barriers preventing access to a home. Behind every statistic is a person of value and worth that feels they have no hope. All those with the power and ability to do so, including churches at the heart of communities must determine to come together to help those who endure life without shelter.”
Housing Justice Cymru Director, Sharon Lee, said, “Sadly these latest figures confirm our expectation that rough sleeping has increased across Wales.We know a great deal of good work is being done, but more must be done to move beyond just managing crisis. The focus has to be on putting in place systems and support that help people away from a life on the streets. It’s not acceptable that people sleeping rough, so often fall through the net of homelessness provision and support.”