Cardiff’s homelessness crisis is the worst in 35 years, says veteran councillor

Plans for temporary homes brought forward to combat growing problem sparked in part by problems in the rental market

CARDIFF council is building more temporary homes to combat what the cabinet member for housing calls “the worst homelessness crisis since I was elected in 1987”.

Visibly moved, Lynda Thorne said: “It’s frustrating, people are becoming more aware of the problem, but it’s still not getting the attention it needs.”

Councillor Lynda Thorne, Cardiff cabinet member for housing and communities

More than 8,000 applicants are on the Cardiff waiting list for social housing, alongside a further 1,400 families and individuals living in temporary accommodation.

An average of 53 families are applying for temporary residences each month, while only 42 are moving out. Because of this surplus, the council has taken the unprecedented step of placing families in hotels.

The council is building 190 modular homes on the former gasworks site behind the Ikea in Grangetown. They offer families secure, short-term shelter and make use of what would otherwise be empty land.

It now aims to build 20 of the three-bedroom flats per week so the entire stock is ready by January.

Work has begun behind the Ikea in Grangetown, with the council aiming to expand the current stock of temporary homes by 190 (Credit: Angus Tiffin)

An increase in homelessness was expected after the pandemic ban on evictions was lifted this summer, but things have been made worse by the economic crisis.

Surging inflation has increased the cost of essential goods and services like food, gas and electricity. In October, food prices were increasing at a 12-month rate of 16.4% with overall inflation at 11.1%.

At the same time, rents are growing at their fastest rate for more than a decade. This is partly because of rising interest rates – mortgages are more expensive and landlords are passing on increased costs to tenants through rent rises.

However, the main problem is supply. The cost of building a house has risen with everything else, meaning that construction companies are struggling to operate – shown by the collapse of Bridgend-based firm, Jehu Group.

In the private rental market, there are concerns that there are not enough landlords. Mortgages have become more difficult to get and new legislation is making evictions harder.

A recent survey by Cardiff Landlord Forum found that 63% of landlords plan to sell their properties in the next five years. This is likely to reduce the number of available tenancies and may result in higher rents.

Paying higher rent on a smaller budget has led about 500 Cardiff families to rely on temporary accommodation – a number that’s only likely to grow.

For those concerned about their housing situation, the council offers an advice service that has helped prevent more than 450 evictions since the end of September.

  • The helpline to ring is 029 2057 0750.