A COUNCILLOR has made a heartfelt plea for Monmouthshire landlords to be more open to taking in homeless tenants having experienced homelessness herself.

Councillor Lisa Dymock said she had nowhere to live in 2013 following the death of her mother and the breakdown of a relationship.

The Conservative member for The Elms, speaking to the adults select committee, had used the home share website SpareRoom to find a place to live.

“My mental health started to suffer. I didn’t have the energy to fight for what I was entitled to,” said an emotional Cllr Dymock on Monday.

“But I was incredibly lucky that I met two people through business and they took me in. This is why I firmly believe in opening up your homes to people who are less fortunate than you.

“Within two years I was back on my feet and I’d got a new job. I got my old self back.”

Cllr Dymock shared her experiences during a wider discussion of the homelessness situation in Monmouthshire and the local authority’s plans to tackle it.

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A regional strategy, drawn up by the five Gwent local authorities, aims to improve access to affordable housing and provide support to those homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Cllr Dymock, who was elected in 2017, praised the scheme and said: “Whilst I believe people should stand on their own two feet and flourish, some people can’t.

“I’ve been there, it’s a very dark and lonely place. We need to change that stigma. [Homelessness] can happen to anyone.”

Universal Credit and the removal of the Severn Bridge tolls is likely to affect the homelessness situation in Monmouthshire, the meeting heard.

The council-owned Monmouthshire Lettings Service (MLS), which supports landlords and tenants, is considering a ‘shared lodgings’ scheme to find more accommodation for young, single people.

But housing options officer Ian Ferguson said plans to utilise spare rooms after the introduction of the bedroom tax “fell flat” because landlords were unwilling to rent properties to “certain clientele”.

“The altruistic view may be there but when reality sets in, a lot of people change their mind”, he added.

The meeting heard that Monmouthshire suffers from a lack of “career landlords” and that MLS tries to incentivise property owners to sign up to the scheme.

Stephen Griffiths, housing strategy and policy officer, said landlords are offered “golden handshakes” of up to £1,500 a year in a bid to increase the number of properties available for struggling households.

But these payments would only be offered if the landlord agrees to extend their tenancy by up to a year.

Councillor Debby Blakebrough, committee chair, praised a “brave” Cllr Dymock for sharing her experiences, adding: “This is a heartfelt plea for us to really push forward the home sharing scheme.”

The committee endorsed the strategy for cabinet approval at a future meeting.