Council takes innovative steps to tackle the unprecedented demand for temporary accommodation

In line with the aims of the Housing Support Programme Strategy, the Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to adopt a novel approach in relation to homelessness. Cabinet has approved the purchasing of Housing of Multiple Occupation (HMO), as well as the continuation of existing accommodation providers for a period of up to 12 months, to address the stark homelessness situation across the county borough.

In the midst of a homelessness crisis in Wales, the use of temporary accommodation services has increased exponentially in Bridgend County Borough. There were 71 households in temporary accommodation at the end of 2018/19 and 253 households at the end of 2022/23, equating to a 256 percent rise within this time frame.

Currently, the financial implications of temporary accommodation pressures are dire. There is a projected 3,456 percent increase in costs between the end of 2017/18 to the end of 2023/24, with a forecasted spend of £4,790,000 by the end of 2024.

This situation has been compounded by a wider increase in demand for social housing. Since 2019-2020, the total number of applicants on the Bridgend Common Housing Register at the end of each year has risen substantially. This is largely attributed to the impact of the cost-of-
living crisis, as well as the reducing number of properties that are affordable in the private rental sector.

As well as undertaking actions already outlined in the recently approved strategy, the local authority plans to acquire HMO style properties to alleviate the enormous demand for temporary accommodation, as well as make medium term financial savings.

Ownership of HMO style properties, which the local authority will purchase and manage, will help to reduce costs. The capital funding for the HMO purchases will be provided through S106 funding (financial contributions provided by developers) that is already included within the capital programme.

Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Regeneration, said: “Faced with a housing crisis across the whole of Wales, the council is taking innovative action to tackle these challenges and financial pressures, with the purchasing of HMOs.

“Additionally, the implementation of the action plan, highlighted in the Housing Support Strategy, has already began. For example, the opening of a new supported accommodation service in October 2023, called Ty Ireland. This provides four units of long-term accommodation, with constant onsite assistance, for rough sleepers with complex mental health and / or substance misuse issues.

“The Leasing Scheme Wales is also in operation across the county borough. This is a partnership with private landlords, aiming to use properties from this sector for households needing accommodation.

“We are trying our very best to combat a situation that is mirrored throughout Wales, with creativity, drive, as well as sensitivity.”