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Council stepping up support for homeless during coronavirus pandemic

COUNCIL staff are intensifying efforts to bring empty homes back into use to help homeless people cope with the Coronavirus crisis, as well as supporting those in housing need.

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The number of empty council homes is already at a record low, but in the last three weeks work to get them back into use as quickly as possible has seen 42 prepared for letting.

A team of 20 skilled trades staff, working alongside Housing's Homes Preparation Unit, are turning around properties in as little as 48 hours.  Staff working in the city's District Housing Offices, in liaison with Homeless Caseworkers, are ensuring these properties are offered to those most in need.

Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Homes & Energy said: "At times like these, it is often the most vulnerable who are at the greatest risk.

"We've made a pledge that no person need sleep rough in Swansea. That pledge was in place before the Coronavirus crisis and will still be there when the pandemic is over.

"As well as that we are determined that we will have as many council properties as possible available right now during the pandemic to support people in need of housing. That's why we are accelerating our efforts to prepare our empty properties for use."

Swansea Council owns around 13,500 homes and less than 250 - about 1.6% - are empty at any given time. The main reason for being empty is that they are in a period between one tenant leaving and another taking the property on.

In the past three weeks 31 empty properties have been prepared for handover to new tenants with another 11 being worked on. 

Work needing to be done included bathroom and kitchen repairs, plumbing, electrical, gas and heating checks and repairs as well as renewing doors.

Cllr Lewis said: "These are difficult times and people have never needed their council as much as they do now. Our housing and building services teams have been exceptionally busy supporting tenants and the most vulnerable in our communities.

"Our skilled plumbers, carpenters, electricians and gas engineers have been working flat-out repairing and improving tenants' homes.

"They've also been playing an important part in helping build the new Swansea Bay Studios field hospital on Fabian Way. These are unprecedented times and our teams are stepping up to the challenge in unprecedented ways."

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