Wales

New law could force ex-prisoners on to street, charities say

Homelessness among ex-prisoners in Wales
Image caption Shelter Cymru is 'very concerned' new housing law could leave ex-prisoners on the street

Concerns have been raised that changes to housing legislation could see more former prisoners becoming homeless in Wales.

Ex-prisoners will no longer automatically qualify for emergency accommodation on release, under the new Housing Wales Act.

Shelter Cymru said it was "very concerned" more would now end up on the street.

The Welsh government said it was working on a "package of support".

Rebecca Taylor, of Shelter Cymru, said the housing charity was "very, very concerned".

"We will see a lot more vulnerable tenants, perhaps, having to put them up and perhaps risking their tenancy," she added.

Case study: 'I didn't really know what to do.'

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Media captionJohn, 26, said he previously struggled to find a home after leaving prison

Ex-prisoner John, 26, has previously struggled to find somewhere to live after leaving jail.

"I ended up sofa surfing and staying with my family for a few months. I ended up back out on the streets, just drinking a lot. I didn't know what to do to get a job, I didn't really know what to do.

"I ended up getting into trouble and going back to prison."

According to the new act, introduced in April, ex-offenders will still be eligible for support to prevent them becoming homeless.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "Our new legislation is focused on preventing homelessness and the change in priority status for prison-leavers reflects this.

"Under the Housing Act 2014, help to find suitable accommodation is now provided for people before they leave prison, rather than only taking action upon their release, which was often the case under the previous legislation."

The government said it was working with local authorities and other organisations to "provide a co-ordinated package of support for prison-leavers".

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