MENTAL health charity Newport Mind will receive funding from a multi-million pound programme targeting homelessness to add a new floor to its city offices to provide seven self-contained flats.

Money for the scheme at Newport Mind's Commercial Street base will come through an extra £40m made available to councils across Wales and aimed at providing people with safe and secure homes, to make sure they do not fall back into homelessness as the coronavirus lockdown eases, and no-one is forced back onto the streets.

The £40m supports the second phase of the Welsh Government's homelessness response regarding coronavirus, focusing on a longer term approach to transform services, build accommodation.

The ambition is to ensure everyone who was provided with emergency accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic has a clear route to permanent housing, and to provide high quality accommodation for those threatened with homelessness in the future.

It follows an initial £10m announced in March, to help ensure everyone had accommodation where they could self-isolate if necessary and follow public health advice on basic hygiene, hand washing and social distancing.

The Welsh Government has also provided support to make sure as many people as possible facing financial hardship due to the pandemic remain in their private rented homes, sustaining tenancies and avoiding eviction due to rent arrears.

A temporary increase in the notice period for eviction has been announced, to provide extra protection from homelessness for tenants in private rented and housing association accommodation.

And last month £1.4m was announced to help tenants boost household income and manage problem debt, with the help of a dedicated early alert scheme provided by Citizens Advice Cymru.

In addition, a new Tenant Saver Loan Scheme intends to provide an affordable way to cover rent arrears, or future months’ rent, to reduce the risk of eviction and homelessness. Loans will be paid directly to landlords and are available for tenants who were not in significant rent arrears prior to March 1 this year.


“The coronavirus has shone a light on housing in a way that few of us have seen before and 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," said minister for housing and local government Julie James, following a visit to Newport Mind.

"The best way we can tackle homelessness is by preventing it in the first place.

"I do not wish to see anyone forced to return to the streets. We have a unique opportunity to change the services and change lives for the better and make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated."

Ms James added that the goal is end homelessness in Wales, and that councils - working with third sector and other organisations - have developed "highly ambitious, bold and innovative projects that not only draw on energy efficient, modern methods of construction but also join with other services, such as substance misuse, mental health, primary care and community safety.

"This reflects the fact that homelessness isn’t just a housing issue; it’s a public services issue and it’s about having access to those services where and when people need them. We’re not tinkering around the edges - this is about bold, long-lasting solutions,” she said.

Newport City Council leader Cllr Jane Mudd said it worked with other organisations to help as many people off the streets and into accommodation before the pandemic began but lockdown made this imperative.

“This was not without its challenges, but it would not have been possible without the hard work and innovation of our housing team, our partners and the financial support given by the Welsh Government," she said.

“I’m delighted we've been able to work with Newport Mind on this fantastic new housing scheme. We know eradicating rough sleeping and homelessness completely will not be easy, but this is an important next step to transforming the lives of those who do not have a roof over their heads."