At least 6,000 children are homeless in Wales.
More children are homeless in Wales than ever before, says charity Shelter Cymru. The number of homeless families - more than 3,400 - showed a 27% increase last year and the charity estimates that this includes at least 6,000 children.
John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said yesterday, 'This is the third year in a row that we have seen official homelessness grow in Wales and the evidence is that the trend is continuing.'
Shelter Cymru is particularly concerned about the number of homeless families placed in temporary accommodation and bed and breakfast establishments.
'In the last quarter of 2003, 572 households were in bed and breakfast accommodation - and, worryingly, 142 of these were families with children,' said Mr Puzey.
'For homeless children this sort of bed and breakfast is a long way from the traditional friendly seaside hotel.
'It means having to share bathrooms with strangers and living in overcrowded conditions and with little room for playing. There is plenty of evidence that living in bed and breakfast for any length of time can seriously damage families and children.'
Shelter Cymru believes councils can do more to address homelessness and reduce the number of people in bed and breakfast.
'We estimate that putting a homeless family in bed and breakfast in Wales costs around pounds 500 a week,' said Mr Puzey.
'There is so much more we can do with that money in terms of finding more secure and appropriate housing for homeless families.
'We hope that new policy agreements between the National Assembly and local councils will put an end to this type of accommodation in Wales for good.'