Council to use ‘alternative building’ as Tŷ Nos set for redevelopment as part of move to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Wrexham
Wrexham Council have announced they are working on ‘the next steps’ of tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in Wrexham, and will look to acquire a building to use as a replacement while Tŷ Nos gets redeveloped.
Earlier this year – to help prevent the spread of coronavirus – Welsh Government asked local authorities to remove rough sleepers from the streets and to rehouse them in temporary accommodation, locally that took place at disused accommodation at the Plas Coch end of the Glyndwr University campus.
Back in June it was announced the council was ‘looking for long term alternative accommodation provision’, with Welsh Government offering £50m across Wales to help all local authorities achieve the goal to ‘help keep people in their homes and end homelessness’.
The local plan to achieve the permanent solution is set to go before the Executive Board of the council, however we understand it will be a “Part 2” secret report so details are thin.
Wrexham Council have said “a balanced package of measures is being considered” explaining them as:
- Finding an alternative building to replace the facilities at Plas Coch at the end of September. This will provide a medium-term solution while Tŷ Nos is redeveloped.
- Redeveloping the existing Tŷ Nos rough sleeper facility in the town centre to provide a permanent support hub with increased capacity.
- Identifying and buying five additional properties for use as ‘general need accommodation’ that can be used in different situations to support people who are homeless.
- Updating the council’s Housing Allocations Policy to make it easier to find more permanent accommodation for people who are homeless – in line with Welsh Government’s direction.
The current Tŷ Nos night shelter has around 16 beds which means any medium term ‘alternative building’ would have to be of scale to replace that resource quite promptly without large scale conversion, for example an ex-B&B.
In early 2019 Tŷ Nos was the site for semi-permanent ‘pod’ style modular accommodation units, and we understand that the units will not be removed from the site during the redevelopment.
Councillor David Griffiths, Lead Member for Housing, said: “The former student accommodation has been used to house and support people who are homeless or sleeping rough over the past few months, and the arrangement has been very successful.
“As well as helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keeping our communities safe during the current emergency, it’s given the council and its partners the chance to provide extra support to many people…helping them find alternative pathways to improved health, employment and housing.
“However, the building was only a temporary arrangement, and – like the rest of Wales – we’re working closely with Welsh Government on finding a more permanent solution.
“We’re working very hard to comply with the direction given to councils by Welsh Government.”
Councillor Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, said: “I want to say a big thank you to Glyndwr University for its help and support over the summer. Allowing us to lease the disused student accommodation has been a huge help, and we’re incredibly grateful.
“I also want to thank all the staff who’ve worked on this project for getting us to where we are.
“As a council, we’re working closely with the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James, to achieve Welsh Government’s vision.
“The measures we’re looking at for the autumn will help reduce the number of rough sleepers in the town, reduce the pressure in our communities, and lead us towards a long-term solution that will benefit everyone.
“Welsh Government policy requires councils to find a long-term solution to rough sleeping, and I think this is really important for Wrexham.”
Councillor Pritchard adds: “The proposals have been designed though close working between national and local government, with support from Clwyd Alyn Housing Association, and based on funding from both the council and Welsh Government.
“Taking people off the streets, and providing them with the support they need to improve their health, employment and housing prospects will help everyone in the long-run.”
The Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James said: “The coronavirus has reminded us all of the fundamental importance of good-quality affordable housing, a safe and secure home and strong and cohesive communities where people want to live and work.
“I have been clear that I do not wish to see anyone forced to return to the streets. We have a unique opportunity to change services and change lives for the better – and make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated.”
“Joint working across partners is key to success; partnership working has helped meet immediate needs and develop the longer term measures outlined by Wrexham Council.
“The package announced will build on Wrexham’s work so far and help transform services in the longer term. It is important that we continue to work closely together to provide high quality homes and support that prevent homelessness and where it cannot be prevented ensure people are rapidly rehoused.”
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