There is a “coming tide” of homelessness across the country, a leading housing charity has warned.
It comes as the number of people living in temporary accommodation has increased by more than half since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Across Wales, thousands more people are living in hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts and hostels, while they wait for a permanent solution to homelessness.
Data obtained for ITV’s Wales This Week programme show that the number of people living in temporary accommodation in Wales has increased by nearly 50% since 2019.
During the pandemic, the Welsh Government provided emergency funding to provide accommodation for homeless people in Wales.
It paid for stays in bed and breakfasts, and the creation of temporary shelters to keep people safe.
The emergency funding came to an end in 2022, and there are now more than 13,593 people staying in temporary accommodation across Wales, a 50% rise compared to the 9,023 recorded across the country in 2019.
Colin Cooper spent ten months living in a bed and breakfast in Swansea.
He says waiting for support to find a more permanent place to call home has had a huge impact on his mental health.
Colin told Wales This Week: "It’s been hell, you know. Hell.
"If it wasn’t for Mel [support working from the Wallich], who’s been a rock to me, I wouldn’t have lasted I don’t think.”
Without the ability and space to prepare his own meals, Colin has also lost weight and seen a decline in his physical health.
“It’ll be nice to cook food yourself instead of deteriorating,” Colin continued. “Because that’s what I am. I am slowly deteriorating.
“I need to get in, I need to get my flat, and put this behind me. I’m not giving up, ok. I’ve got grandkids, I’ve got my kids.”
The number of people supported in accommodation also coincides with an increase in the number of people presenting as homeless across Wales.
At least 30,000 people presented as homeless to local authorities across the country in 2022.
Of the 20 councils that provided data for 2019 and 2022, only Newport and Flintshire recorded a decrease in the total number of presentations.
In Wales, the Welsh Government is responsible for housing policy.
It currently has a target to make an extra 20,000 social homes available during its current term in office, through a mixture of house building and bringing existing properties up to standard.
However, there are fears that this target may not be met before 2026.
Julie James, the minister responsible for housing policy, told Wales This Week: “We have a lot of difficulties, there’s no doubt about that.
“We have far too many people in temporary accommodation and in particular I’m worried about families in bed and breakfast accommodation.
“We’ve increased the amount of money we are putting into the transitional accommodation programme so we can build good quality transitional accommodation.”
Transitional accommodation is housing designed by the Welsh Government to provide people with a place to stay for up to two and a half years.
It is intended to act as a stop gap while the Welsh Government’s social housing building projects continue.
“We’ve had all the problems of the pandemic, global supply chains and inflation” Ms James continued.
“We are making sure that we do that as fast as possible, as well as a number of other schemes to release as many properties as possible.
“The cost of living crisis means we still have not far off a thousand people a month presenting as homeless in Wales, so a large part of what we are doing now is looking at the prevention agenda.
“We’ve allowed councils to buy tenanted properties for the first time and we’ll bring those up to the Welsh housing quality standard.”
Despite the work being done, charities and organisations that work in the housing sector, say they fear that the cost of living crisis and inflation could lead to the situation in Wales getting worse.
Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, the chief executive The Wallich, a homelessness and rough sleeping charity, said: “What we are seeing through our rapid rehousing service is that the scarce accommodation that is available is so unaffordable that we’re already setting people up to fail.
“They can’t settle there because they know they might not be able to afford to stay there in the long term.
“So what we would like to see is local housing allowance be able to hit the rent threshold for people to be able to stay in accommodation, and match inflation.
“We need every resource thrown at this. My fear is that we’re going to see people exposed to homelessness that never thought they would be in this position. We need to be ready for the tide that’s coming.”
Wales This Week: Nowhere To Call Home is on ITV Cymru Wales on Tuesday 28 March at 8:00pm and available to catch up online after.