'This is our chance to dismantle homelessness' - Christian leaders welcome Welsh strategy

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Christian leaders have hailed the Welsh Government's homelessness plan which aims to provide everyone in the nation with a safe place to live.

Covid-19 presented huge challenges for homeless people as communal shelters, many of them church-run, were shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Welsh Government has pumped £100m into the plan, part of which has gone towards emergency accommodation during the pandemic to prevent hundreds of people from ending up on the streets.

However, the vision for the plan extends beyond the pandemic to the next 10 years, and will include boosting affordable housing and expanding preventative support services.

Christian charity Housing Justice Cymru has welcomed the strategy, saying that it could make homelessness "a thing of the past" in Wales. 

The charity's director, Bonnie Navarra, said it was "a hugely exciting opportunity for Wales".

"Emergency accommodation is now vastly improved in terms of quality and quantity, and has been made available to anybody sleeping on the streets, or at risk of it," she said. 

"This is our chance to dismantle homelessness, and ensure that moving forward, it is only a rare, brief and unrepeated experience."

Housing Justice Cymru has previously operated winter night shelters in churches and community centres but is now shifting its resources to help people find accommodation and sustain it.

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, who is chair of Housing Justice Cymru, is calling on others in the sector to get behind the government strategy. 

"It is only by working with existing services and local authorities that we can make the most out of this unique opportunity before us and progress towards genuinely ending homelessness in Wales," he said.

"This may mean moving away from night shelters and soup kitchens, and instead directing people to their Local Authority who can house and support them.

"We have a golden opportunity before us in Wales. We must not squander it."