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Survey shows scale of ‘housing emergency’

One in three people (34%) in Wales have been impacted by the housing emergency, says new research conducted on behalf of Shelter Cymru.

The research shows that over a million children and adults in Wales are living in unsafe or unaffordable housing. This includes everything from families forced to choose between paying rent or mortgage payments and buying food, to people living in homes riddled with damp, mould and disrepair.

Shelter Cymru says the shocking new figures show the scale of the challenge facing the Welsh Government why good homes must be front and centre of its commitment to build back better and fairer in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the research:

  • Almost 1 in 10 people (9%)- equivalent to an estimated over a quarter of a million people (283, 000) – have had to cut spending on household essentials like food or heating in order to afford rent or mortgage payments.
  • 1 in six people (16%) – equivalent to 504, 000 – say they cannot keep their home warm in winter.
  • Over 1 in 10 (13%) – 409,000 – are living in homes that are not structurally sound or have hazards such as faulty wiring or fire risks.
  • Just over 1 in 4 people (26%) –819,000 – are living in homes with significant damp, mould or condensation problems.
  • 1 in 10 people –315,000 – say their current housing situation is harming their mental health, or their family’s mental health.

At the same time, an estimated  75,000 (3%) of adults said they had experienced discrimination when they tried to find their current home and felt it was because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or disability.

The stats come from a larger online survey of people across Britain that asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with eight statements which were used to create an overall measure of the housing emergency. These included conditions, affordability, insecurity and discrimination.

Shelter Cymru is calling on politicians and partiesto  come together locally and nationally to deliver on their commitments, in light of these findings: building at least 20,000 new, high quality social homes; helping the thousands of people priced out of renting and buying; and ensuring families pushed into homelessness are not trapped in temporary accommodation, and that no-one in Wales is forced to sleep on the streets.

Merlin, from Newport, was evicted by his landlord just days before his partner was due to give birth. He has been supported by Shelter Cymru and said:

‘When we moved in to our flat during the pandemic we faced at least 54 problems either with maintenance or repairs needing to be done in that time. The noise from the upstairs flat was intolerable at times when we first moved in. The carpet was filthy dirty, but the landlord wouldn’t clean it. There was water leaking in through the ceiling in our front room, the oven was broken, there was a mouse hole in the bathroom, and the list continued.

‘Two days after responding to a request from the landlord for a full list of the problems we were experiencing at the flat, we were told to leave.  This is simply the most blatant case of potential revenge eviction I think it could be possible to find, and we are sickened to our stomach and I feared that the stress on my girlfriend would affect the birth of our unborn child. I just think it’s outrageous that this is legal and revenge evictions like this are allowed to happen.’

Ruth Power, chief executive of Shelter Cymru, said:

‘Good homes are the foundation of all of our lives. They let people go to work every day, without worrying about what they’ll come home to. They let children thrive in school.  They give us the comfort, safety and security that is vital to healthy, happy and productive lives.

‘Our research shows the scale and seriousness of the housing emergency in Wales and shows that urgent action is needed. For the families foregoing food to keep roofs over their heads; for the renters threatened with eviction because Covid pushed them into unemployment; for the generation of young people for whom buying or renting their own home is an unachievable daydream – Shelter Cymru will always fight for home, and for everyone without one.’



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