The Welsh Housing Minister, Julie James AM, visited the Salvation Army Housing First project in Cardiff on Thursday (18th January), seeing for herself the work being done to help tackle growing homelessness.
Housing First aims to support people in need of help to move away from homelessness. Those receiving support are offered a place to live and then offered tailored, long-term support to help them live independently.
Last month, the Minister announced over £548,000 for the Salvation Army and Cardiff Council for two projects to work closely in the capital. Cardiff Council is establishing a new Housing First pilot to run alongside the existing Salvation Army pilot project.
Speaking on the project, James said: “The fantastic team here in Cardiff are supporting people to live independently. I was able to speak with Chris and hear how this approach is helping him to move forward with his life.
“Housing First can help people who are homeless and who often have complex needs, including mental illness, problems with drug and alcohol abuse, poor physical health and a lack of a wider support network.
“This approach provides people with flexible support for as long as they need it and focuses on what that person might need to recover and live independently.
She added: “This project is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Wales to move away from living on our streets. I share the determination of everyone here at the Salvation Army, across the local authorities and charities working to tackle homelessness and improve the lives of people who find themselves without a secure, suitable home.
“We know that this not the right approach for everyone who is homeless – there is still a need for supported housing and temporary accommodation. However, projects like this one in Cardiff can play an important role in supporting people, particularly those who have been sleeping rough for a long time, to be able to sustain a tenancy.”
Speaking on the Minister’s visit, Yvonne Connolly, Regional Manager for The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services Unit Wales and the South West, said: “It was a pleasure to discuss with the Minister the ground-breaking results that have been achieved by the Housing First Cardiff programme with some of the most marginalised and hard to reach people in our capital city.”
Housing First Projects are designed to ensure that the individual has both choice and control. They are encouraged to engage with support services such as mental health or substance abuse, but they are not required to do so in return for support.