A council has provided shelter for more than 700 homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic by housing them temporarily in local hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) gave 721 people (from 540 households) temporary accommodation between March and October 2020.
Dhanisha Patel, the council’s cabinet member for future generations and wellbeing, said the council introduced measures in March “to help support homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless to keep them safe during the coronavirus pandemic”.
The Labour councillor added: “While not all those who came to us for help were a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the figures show the extent of the demand for housing services during this period.
“People present as homeless for a variety of reasons whether that involves the threat of losing their accommodation, family breakdown or relationship breakdown, for example.
“We’d like to thank all those who have helped vulnerable and homeless people who might otherwise have faced having to sleep rough during the crisis.”
Of the 721 people given shelter by the council, 371 were children.
Between March and October, the council received 1,010 homelessness applications, marking an increase of nearly 25% in the number of people requesting help with housing compared to the same period in 2019. Not all of the applications required emergency accommodation.
BCBC has been working alongside partners including The Wallich, Pobl, registered social landlords and voluntary organisations to assist people in need of housing. They are continuing to help people who are currently in temporary accommodation by moving them into permanent and long-term homes.
The council has a duty to assess anyone where there is reason to believe they are homeless under S.62 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. During the pandemic, BCBC has been following Welsh Government guidance, which widened the category of persons who are classed as being in need of temporary accommodation.
Currently, all homeless applications are classified as priority need.
According to a council spokesman, this is “the key reason” behind the increase in temporary accommodation placements created between March and October.
They also said the rise in applications could also be explained by “a variety of factors including the social and economic impacts of Covid-19” and the council’s new IT system, which has made online applications more accessible.
Homelessness and housing register applications can be made via BCBC’s website, by emailing the council at email@example.com or by calling 01656 643643.