A protest against Wales's housing crisis attracted hundreds to the Senedd yesterday.

The Nid yw Cymru ar Werth ("Wales is not for Sale") demonstration, called by Welsh language society Cymdeithas yr Iaith, called for tough action on second home ownership and rising rent prices across Wales, attracting protestors from as far as Flintshire and Ynys Mon.

"The idea is that we're coming together as a community to demand that the Welsh Government take the action that we need, now, to ensure that everyone has a home in their community - and that our communities are strong in every part of the country," Mabli Siriol, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, told The National yesterday.

READ MORE: 'Second homes reaching crisis point for communities in Wales

"Currently the housing and planning system isn't working for anyone, and we see the effects of it every day, in all parts of the country."

The National Wales: Cymdeithas yr Iaith chair Mabli Siriol speaking yesterday. (Source: Rebecca Wilks)Cymdeithas yr Iaith chair Mabli Siriol speaking yesterday. (Source: Rebecca Wilks)

Representatives from pro-independence groups YesCymru and Undod were present at the event, which featured bilingual performances from Merthyr-based electro soul artist Eädyth and band Twmffat. 

Sam Coates, a member of Undod, the Republican left-wing campaign group for Welsh independence, said: "It's a multi-faceted housing crisis that's expressing itself here in Wales.

"A lot of people here today will be here because of the holiday homes crisis in Welsh-speaking parts of Wales - but of course, here in Cardiff we've got sky-high rents, and people being asked for guarantors despite being on good incomes.

"It's all the same, market-driven system that's causing all of this."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price was also among the crowd, along with a number of Plaid Senedd Members.

The National Wales:

The National Wales: Protestors at yesterday's demonstration. (Source: Rebecca Wilks)Protestors at yesterday's demonstration. (Source: Rebecca Wilks)

Mabon ap Gwynfor, MS for Dwyfor Meirionydd and Plaid's spokesperson on housing, told The National: "We need to see active involvement from the government - interference from the government - in the housing market, because the moment it's out of control.

"We need to see real, radical steps to control house prices and the price of rent, so that people are able to stay within their own communities, should they wish."

Asked whether the issue would factor into current cooperation talks between Welsh Labour and Plaid, ap Gwynfor said: "That's above my pay grade, I'm afraid!

The National Wales: "Communities, not Capitalism" (Source: Rebecca Wilks)"Communities, not Capitalism" (Source: Rebecca Wilks)

"Certainly it shouldn't surprise you if housing was part of the discussions, but it's always part of discussions between political parties - and it's what we're debating in the Senedd Siambr on a weekly basis."

The problem of holiday homes driving up house prices in Wales's coastal beauty spots, Cymdeithas yr Iaith says, has the same roots as the housing crisis currently escalating in the capital - "the free market, wealth inequality and apathetic politicians."

READ MORE: Housing rally held on Pembrokeshire beach as campaigners call for action

House prices in Cardiff over the past fifteen years have risen twice as fast as wages, and research from thinktank The Bevan Foundation found this year that 95% of homes for rent in Wales are above Local Housing Allowance levels - rendering them unaffordable for those on Universal Credit.

Meanwhile in villages such as Cwm yr Eglwys, Pembrokeshire, the majority of homeowners are from outside the area - largely retirees and holiday homeowners.

Property website Rightmove reported this summer that house prices in Wales were rising faster than any other country of the UK.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has proposed solutions including: 

  • Controls on house prices and rent
  • Changing the definition of affordable housing
  • Prioritisation for local people in the housing market
  • Taking empty and second homes into public hands
  • Capping the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community
  • A democratised planning system

Watch our interviews with Nid yw Cymru ar Werth protestors below.

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