An easy question for most of us, but not for everyone; and it’s a growing problem in Conwy, Martin Cooil told 20 Rotarians and guests at a talk to Rotary Club of Llandudno on “Homelessness” on Tuesday 30th October.
Martin is Housing Solutions Manager for Conwy CBC. He outlined the help for people and shared details of the proactive way in which his team, work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. But its not only the Council who support people in housing need. There are many hard working voluntary organisations in Conwy, one of which is Hope Restored in Llandudno. Brenda Fogg who runs Hope Restored, supported by a team of volunteers, works tirelessly to see that as many people as possible have a roof over their heads.
The emphasis is on prevention. Actions such as timely help with an eviction scenario, helping people to look for homes, the lending of a deposit or rent in advance, or a small grant to help someone set up their new home are all far more cost-effective than paying for temporary accommodation – and also so much more caring in dealing with the needs of people facing homelessness.
Martin invited members to challenge the homeless stereotype – most homelessness is invisible – perhaps it’s a family living in temporary accommodation offered by the Council’, or maybe its someone “sofa surfing” and living under the radar with friends and family from night to night. It can creep up on people who never dreamt it could happen to them, through an untoward unforeseen incident, an illness, a bereavement or a sudden loss of income.
Compared with Wales overall, Conwy has below-average number of social housing available for rent, but the Council and its Housing Association partners are committed to build more homes. Private accommodation is more plentiful but can often be unaffordable to people who are on low incomes or in receipt of benefits. In Conwy the average cost of a house to buy is 6 times the average household’s annual earnings, making getting a mortgage impossible without a substantial deposit.
The ongoing challenge is therefore to ameliorate these harsh financial realities of housing.