By Alaw John
Heledd Evans, 21 from Pembrokeshire, is on the brink of moving to Cardiff as a result of Pembrokeshire’s housing crisis.
Ideally, she would to stay in her home county, but given the area’s house prices, she has no choice but to move away.
“If I don’t go to Cardiff, I’ll never be able to afford to come back home,” said Heledd, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, or what the future holds for rural Welsh communities.”
Dr Alex, the UK’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador, announced his purchase of four holiday homes in Pembrokeshire. He received a very negative reaction from many locals, as they accused the doctor of contributing to the problem.
“It infuriated me”, said Heledd: “If he bought local houses and rented them out to local people, I wouldn’t question it. But these houses are going to be empty for the majority of the year, which means nothing of value will be invested into local businesses. ”
Plaid Cymru councillor for Crymych and Mynachlog-ddu, Cris Tomos, has put a plan in place to try and solve the problem.
The county’s second home tax has increased from one million to three million pounds, with Cris planning on sharing £300,000 each between communities, enabling them to build new homes.
“Similar to Ceredigion, you will have to prove you’ve lived, or had contact with the area for at least ten years”, explained the councillor: “So it should protect the language in the communities, and hopefully create more jobs. ”
In response, Heledd said: “Instead of investing all this money into new houses, some should be invested in repairing empty houses already standing.”
Cris proposed the idea of co-housing, where people live in one house, sharing a bathroom and kitchen.
“I would definitely consider this option”, said Heledd, “It gives me an element of independence, living with other people whilst reducing the financial burden we face. ”
House prices in Pembrokeshire are continuing to rise, with the crisis not seeming to improve.
Heledd said: “The youth of Wales must be given greater priority, there must be jobs in the area for us. We have to take precedence over everyone. ”