MORE than 100 prison leavers have been left homeless in Wrexham since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to newly released figures.

It follows a large increase in people presenting as homeless in the county borough since lockdown measures were implemented in March, with numbers standing at 505.

Wrexham Council revealed around a fifth of those (103) were individuals who had been released from prison.

The local authority said the Ministry of Justice’s decision to release some offenders early in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19 through prisons had caused an added demand on its housing service.

Wrexham is home to the largest operational prison in the UK in HMP Berwyn on the town’s industrial estate, which has the capacity to hold more than 2,000 inmates.

In a report, the council’s lead member for housing Cllr David Griffiths said: “Rehousing rough sleepers at the start of the pandemic presented a number of challenges.

“The council was presented with a need to find a large number of units of suitable self-contained accommodation in unprecedented times.

“A policy of early prison release for offenders was enacted by the Ministry of Justice to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through prisons.

“This lead to approved premises quickly becoming full and caused extra pressure on the council to rehouse those who as a result, had no accommodation. This added to the rehousing pressure.”

At the start of the pandemic, the council was able to secure a short term lease to house homeless people in student accommodation at Glyndwr University.

While that arrangement has since come to an end, it has been given more than £2.2m by the Welsh Government to create a new homeless hub to replace the existing Tŷ Nos night shelter.

It said it would include self-contained accommodation and office facilities, including interview space for support purposes.

The authority has also recently bought the former bed and breakfast at Grove House on Chester Road to use as emergency accommodation.

A further £500,000 of capital funding has been made available to assist the local lettings agency to purchase properties for single people, as well as £200,000 worth of revenue money to cover staffing costs.

In his report, Cllr Griffiths said EU migrants were among other groups identified as needing support.

He said: “The council also worked with the Welsh Government and partner agencies to secure alternative accommodation, including out of county placements and the blue corridor within the Foyer complex, managed by Clwyd Alyn, for those with no recourse to public funds, which include refugees and European migrants.

“A number of EU migrants who had not met the necessary requirements to be granted the right to remain and therefore had no recourse to public funds.

“These were known to have been part of the rough sleeper cohort for some time. Partners in Clwyd Alyn Housing Association property rehoused them.”

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s homes and environment scrutiny committee on Wednesday, December 2.

The Ministry of Justice has been asked to comment on the impact of prison leavers on homeless numbers.