A man who was made homeless on the day in March when the UK went into lockdown has turned his life around and moved into his “dream home”.
According to Chris, 55, he felt “desperate” when he was forced to sleep in his car for three nights after splitting up from his partner as the pandemic swept through the country.
With the help of Conwy Housing Solutions, he was initially accommodated in a one-room apartment as a temporary measure.
But now Chris he feels like he’s “won the lottery” after moving into a brand new one-bedroom apartment in Conwy Road, Colwyn Bay.
The property has been redeveloped by housing association Cartrefi Conwy who converted the two-storey building which previously housed a carpet shop into one and two-bedroom apartments.
The £860,000 scheme was carried out by Mochdre-based contractors Brenig Construction.
They worked alongside the Creating Futures Academy, which is run by the housing association’s subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, to provide job and training opportunities for tenants.
The development was supported by Conwy County Borough Council and the Welsh Government via the Social Housing Grant Programme.
The apartments were designed to provide affordable housing for small families starting out, couples or professionals.
They pay an “intermediate rent” which is typically set at 20 per cent below the market value. The idea is that intermediate tenants can then save their money that they would have spent on a higher rent to enable them to buy their own home in the future.
Chris, who works at Llandrillo College, says he can’t stop smiling and describes the apartment as his “palace.”
He said: “I was homeless and literally had nowhere to go when the relationship with my partner irretrievably broke down.
“I slept in my car for three nights as I had nowhere to go until I got in touch with Conwy Housing Solutions.
“They found me temporary accommodation in the form of a one-room apartment which was at least something, especially when I was so desperate.”
“My mum, who is 78, lives in the area but I couldn’t move in with her as she has serious health issues and is extremely vulnerable.
“When the new Conwy Road apartments came up, I put my name down for one.
“After a wait of two weeks I found out I had been successful and for me it was like winning the lottery.
“It really is superb – really well thought out and spacious apartment. Cartrefi Conwy also installed fibre to the property so I’ve got fibre Wi-Fi now, so I can speak to my children and grandchildren as much as I want.
“My eldest son Andrew lives in Italy while Thomas and Krystina live on the south coast of England so having the latest fibre technology makes life so much easier.
“I couldn’t be happier than I am now. The apartment is amazing and I’m like a cat that got the cream.”
“We have all the shops on our door steps as well as bus services, rail links all within a very short distance and a doctor’s surgery next door. Add to that a good size car park and an allocated parking space and it’s just perfect.
“The intermediate rent scheme means I can start to get back on my feet and build for the future, but right now, I really couldn’t be happier despite the pandemic.”
Cartrefi Conwy managing director Katie Clubb said: “By working with the Creating Futures Academy and Brenig Construction we were able to ensure we provided as many job opportunities to our tenants and local labour as we could.
“The development is a mixture of refurbishment and new build providing the apartments with plenty of character.
“They all have the latest in heating and insulation, meaning they are as energy efficient as possible.”
She added: “The intermediate rental option is aimed at people in employment and who are not reliant on benefits.
“Applicants need to apply to Tai Teg who manage the register for these intermediate properties to check that they meet the criteria. If they do, they can then choose to apply for any property that suits their needs. A month’s rent and a month’s deposit are usually required.
“The scheme is all about giving people like Chris who are currently unable to afford their own home an opportunity to save towards achieving their goal of buying a property of their own in the future.”