A man who lives in a tent at the rear of a sewage pumping station in Llanelli has branded Carmarthenshire County Council as ‘useless’. The man who did not wish to be identified (we will refer to him as ‘Chris’) told us that he has been living rough since August 2016.
We asked Chris what he had been doing to try and get help. He said: “I applied for social housing via the Wallich charity in August 2016. They told me the council don’t consider me to be high risk. I was in rented accommodation but I was evicted in August 2016. The council gave me a bill of £950 which covers money, which was being sent directly to the landlord up until December 2016 even though according to the landlord I was evicted in August 2016. They have sent me a letter care of (c/o) The Wallich stating I owe them £950 and I am waiting for the court case.”
Speaking about his appalling circumstances Chris said: “I purchased a tent in August 2016 and have been living in it ever since. I am looking for emergency housing. I have been homeless for almost a year. I get £98 per fortnight. Payments were been stopped on 8th Feb because I had no fixed abode. I got a c/o address at the Wallich and I get £98 per fortnight. I am expected to find a home, and food on that.
We asked Chris if he believed that the council were following the policy set out in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, which is meant to ensure that more is done by local authorities and their partners to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. He said: “As far as policy is concerned you’d think I would be a priority. The council have sent me a letter saying I am not a priority. I got that from a person in The Hub”.
Asked what the outlook for his short term future was Chris replied: “Winter is coming. I am still in the tent at the back of a sewage pumping station in Morfa. The smell is terrible and not good for my health. The police have been to see me at the tent and they did not move me on. It must be common land. I am looking for accommodation, a roof over my head. My health is suffering already and I have hereditary Parkinson’s Disease.”
Regarding the The Housing (Wales) Act 2014, the main objective of the law is to ensure people who are homeless or facing homelessness receive help as early as possible. It places a duty on local authorities to work with people who are at risk of losing their home within 56 days to help find a solution to their problems. It is hoped the new provisions will prevent 3 out of 4 people at risk of homelessness from losing their home.
Everything must be done to avoid an unplanned move from adequate accommodation and to ensure people can act in a planned way to improve their housing circumstances. People must have access to the widest possible housing options. This enables them to secure their own accommodation before they become homeless or as soon as possible after losing their home.
We contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to ask them what their policy on homelessness is and if they believed that they were doing enough for people like Chris.
The council’s executive board member for housing, Cllr Linda Evans said: “Each case is unique and it is difficult for us to comment publicly on a private issue, however, we are committed to preventing homelessness and all cases are investigated. Even if we are not in a position to offer accommodation, our options advisers ensure that a personal housing plan is developed to help them resolve their housing issues. This includes advice on finding alternative accommodation, making an application for social housing and support to access the private rented sector as well as highlighting actions they may need to do.
In terms of rough sleepers, there is an annual count and none were identified in Carmarthenshire last year. In terms of homelessness in general, statistics are available in relation to all local authority areas athttps://statswales.gov.wales .”