Housing First, says Holyrood Committee
Scotland should make a number of improvements in its approach to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, including the implementation of a ‘Scottish style Housing First’ that would give people a safe and permanent home.
The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee published a series of recommendations in a report on homelessness today, following a year-long inquiry into the causes and long-term solutions to homelessness in Scotland.
One of the recommendations is to roll out a version of Housing First. The housing model aims to quickly provide a home to those in need, alongside the right level of support, rather than going through several levels of temporary accommodation. It has proven to be successful in Finland: the only country in Europe where homelessness has declined.
The most recent Scottish Government figures show that homelessness remains a problem in Scotland, with more than 34,800 homeless applications made to local authorities last year.
Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said: “We know there is no quick-fix solution to eradicating homelessness and it still remains a complex issue in Scotland and many other countries today.
“After hearing directly from people who are homeless and those who have experienced sleeping on the streets or sofa-surfing, as well as service providers on the front-line, it was clear that further action is needed.
“That’s why our Committee has recommended that the Scottish Government learns from Finland and rolls out a Scottish version of Housing First, as a part of a potential solution to addressing homelessness.
“Housing is a basic human right and everyone should have a roof over their heads. We hope these recommendations will go some way towards ensuring that becomes the reality for more people and families in the future.”
The Committee also highlighted the need for better support for some of the most vulnerable people in society. It heard from care-experienced young people, and some said they felt ‘trapped’ in unsuitable and sometimes ‘dangerous’ accommodation.
Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said: “It was worrying to hear that young and care-experienced people were put in accommodation in locations they didn’t know or feel safe in, which sometimes led to them being close to people who posed a threat to their safety and wellbeing.
“That’s why we’ve called for the Scottish Government and local authorities to recognise the huge importance of housing people where they have existing community ties so they feel safe and fully supported.”
Key facts on homelessness in Scotland (September 2017)
- There were 34,864 homeless applications made to local authorities in the past 12 months. This was 118 applications higher compared to the same period in 2016.
- There were 6,581 children in temporary accommodation. The majority of children were housed in local authority or housing association accommodation (61%), with a further 16% in hostels and 10% in B&B accommodation.
- Others were housed in women’s refuge and accommodation not owned by Local Authorities, such as private lets, mobile homes and caravans.