TWO bed and breakfast hotels are still being used for people who have nowhere to live in Carmarthenshire, despite an aim by the council to phase them out and efforts to increase the supply of temporary accommodation.
The council hired three hotels at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year to accommodate a growing number of mainly single people who presented as homeless.
It followed a change in the law in Wales which required all councils to temporarily accommodate and re-house all single people who didn’t have a place to live.
The council’s executive board heard that the intention had been to stop using the hotels by the end of this March year, but this now looks tricky.
Cllr Linda Evans, who has the housing portfolio, said: “We hoped that we would be down to one (hotel), but we are at two.”
The reason, she said, was a spike in demand after Christmas and the new year.
The two venues can accommodate 25 people between them.
Jonathan Morgan, head of homes and safer communities, said:
“In terms of the hotel issue, clearly our aim was to stop using them by the end of March.
“That’s going to be challenging, and thankfully the Welsh Government have acknowledged that and extended funding for a further six months.”
The council currently has 113 units of temporary accommodation – 100 leased from private landlords, three from a social landlord, and 10 units from the council’s own stock.
It will trial the use of six vacant upper floor two-bed flats to re-house single people, and also three vacant houses which two single people can share.
It is also investigating buying single person accommodation in the private sector to increase stock.
The authority normally caters for 70 to 80 homeless households at any one time but the number has been more than 140 on occasions over the past 10 months, mostly single people.
The council has increased the number of staff who deal with homeless casework, and also expanded the housing advice line service.
The executive board was told that some people who presented as homeless returned to their families and did not need accommodation. Tenancy and benefits advice was given to those who did need it.
“The last thing anybody wants is that they (tenants) are put in a position where they’re going to fail,” said Cllr Evans.
She added: “People come to us in very sad situations and they don’t have anything, so without our support, the situation would be very difficult.
“Yes, there are far too many people in temporary accommodation but they are in accommodation which is suitable, which is managed and is inspected regularly.”
The council has claimed around £80,000 a month from the Welsh Government to cover the extra cost of homeless provision since the pandemic, more than a third of which has gone on bed and breakfast hotel costs.
Cllr Evans said: “Our aim is to move people into a permanent home as soon as possible.”