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A few thoughts on homelessness in Cymru...

Homeless person.

Shelter Cymru warns that hundreds of people could be forced from their homes now that a ban on evictions imposed during the pandemic has been lifted.

Far too often homeless people are stigmatised as social pariahs, who deserve their status in society due to their perceived lack of moral character or rectitude.

But the reality of the matter is that homelessness has myriad causes—and is ultimately the result of bad luck.

You don’t choose to be born into privilege in Pontcanna or into poverty in Penrhiwceiber.

Nobody chooses their genes, their neurochemistry, their family, or their upbringing. Some people have a proclivity for alcohol, or other drugs, while others do not.

If I were to trade places with a homeless person, atom for atom, I would be that person, literally. There would be no part of my being that could have chosen to have behaved or acted differently so as to avoid being homeless—at least there’s nothing in science to suggest otherwise.

The pandemic has surely taught us that tragedy can strike at any moment. So many people have lost their livelihoods and their homes through no fault of their own.

Should these people have been expected to anticipate the onset of a pandemic—caused by a novel coronavirus—which originated in a Chinese city thousands of miles away? Of course not.

And it is precisely for this reason that the Welsh Government chose to implement the ban on evictions in the first place—they knew that many people faced losing their homes through no fault of their own.

Property prices across the country have risen sharply over the past year—by some estimates, by as much as thirteen per cent. Needless to say, wages have not risen by the same amount. In some parts of the country, entire towns and villages are now unaffordable for local residents. Wealthy transplants, fleeing the cities, are buying up properties and converting them into second homes or holiday lets. What we’re left with are gated communities or ghost towns, effectively.

Homelessness is viewed too often as a result of poor life choices, when, in fact, the pandemic has shown us that it is actually the result of poor government.



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