By Lucy Davros
Over 100 people attended a protest in the city centre against homelessness, which was called after a 32-year-old homeless woman tragically died in Alexandra Gardens on 25th November.
Sadly, this needless loss of life is not so unsurprising given the decreasing temperatures around winter and the increasing number of people who are homeless – official figures suggest a 7% increase in Cardiff, although this is likely much higher.
There was a keen interest in the Socialist Party stalls – one on Universal Credit and one on the need for a rent cap – two issues clearly linked to homelessness. Lengthy waiting times means many claimants will be left without their Universal Credit payments over Christmas, while increasing rents put people at risk of not being able to keep up with payments.
The average rent for a 2-bed place in Cardiff is about £750 a month, given that those earning the living wage are only taking home about £1000 (and those under 25 or earning less than the living wage even less), the brutal reality is that many people will be only a couple of pay cheques away from homelessness.
People at the protest were understandably upset at the scandalous homelessness crisis in Cardiff, but they were also angry, and rightly so. It’s clear that those in charge don’t care about the harrowing situations people have been left living in. This is epitomised by the huge increase in food banks.
While Tory austerity measures, passed on by Welsh Labour and others, heartlessly target the most vulnerable, ordinary people donate their time and money to try and mop-up the mess. Instead of trying to help, the authorities would rather not have to see the consequences of their decisions, responding to homelessness by arresting people stuck on the streets.
In response to our demand for rent control, one person at the protest responded, “of course, it’s obvious!” .
The Socialist Party demands immediate action:
· All homeless people to be immediately guaranteed a roof over their head where they can sleep safely
· The Welsh government to allow councils to introduce rent caps
· Letting agency fees to be banned
· A building programme of council houses to provide genuinely affordable housing for families
· A reverse of the cuts to social services to assist homeless people into permanent housing and employment