Two of Scotland largest housing providers have committed 475 homes to be allocated to homeless people across the central belt in the wake of the world biggest sleepout, which raised a minimum of £3.6 million to help end homelessness in the country.
Around 275 permanent housing association and council homes are to be provided to homeless people living in Edinburgh through the EdIndex Partnership, which is made up of representatives from the City of Edinburgh Council and 19 partner registered social landlords.
The homes will be provided in the 18-month period from April 2018 to September 2019.
Wheatley Group has also committed to up to 200 homes for rough sleepers in Glasgow and the central belt.
The homes provided in Edinburgh and by Wheatley are in addition to over a thousand social lets already provided to homeless people each year.
With the 10 homes being created at the Social Bite Village in Granton this Spring, the total is taken to just under 500.
The announcement was made on the eve of Saturday’s Sleep in the Park event which saw over 8,000 people brave sub-zero conditions to sleep out in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. Organised by Social Bite, donations topped £3.6m as the event began.
City of Edinburgh Council leader, Adam McVey, said reducing homelessness remains a key priority for social landlords across the city and that these additional properties are clear evidence of this continued support.
If required, a range of supports including the Housing First model will be piloted in partnership with third sector providers and Social Bite to assist tenants to remain in their homes.
Councillor McVey said: “Last month, we announced the creation of a cross party homelessness task force to address the unprecedented pressures facing our services, with demand for both permanent and temporary accommodation exceeding supply.
“Today’s announcement of an additional 275 permanent homes is a valuable addition to the work already being done with our partners across the city offering an extensive range of services to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, from support and advice on housing options, to assessment services and permanent and temporary accommodation.
“Homelessness prevention is obviously a key priority and along with the council, housing association landlords already provide housing for a high proportion of homeless households in Edinburgh as well supporting households with other needs for housing due to mobility difficulties and overcrowding.
“In recognition of the shortage of affordable housing in Edinburgh we have also committed to building 20,000 new affordable homes in the city in the next 10 years.”
Martin Armstrong, Wheatley Group chief executive, said: “At Wheatley we are very committed to supporting people who find themselves homeless. We understand how complex an issue rough sleeping can be. We want to play our part in helping tackle that issue, not just through the provision of homes but also by helping provide targeted, personalised support to help individuals rebuild their lives.”
Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, added: “I would like to thank EdIndex for their bold leadership in tackling this issue. I would also like to thank the City of Edinburgh Council leadership Adam McVey and Cammy Day for having such a strong vision for Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people.
“A significant amount of the money raised by Sleep in the Park will be invested to make sure that this commitment to housing is paired with fantastic support.
“We’ll work with a range of Scottish charities and leading minds in housing and homelessness to help map out the support people will require to get back on their feet. We will also work hand in hand with the Scottish Government action group to make sure our approach is joined up with the ongoing work to tackle homelessness.”
The Sleep in the Park participants each raised a minimum of £100 each to attend the night, enjoying stripped back ‘busking’ sets from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit before sleeping out. John Cleese told a bedtime story to the attendees who also heard from Rob Brydon, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bob Geldof.
Josh Littlejohn added: “Tonight was the night when people from all walks of life came together in Scotland, to stick up for the most vulnerable people among us. This is the night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one.
“There are 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. When I think about all of the amazing different people, sleeping in this garden tonight, the one thing that strikes me about these statistics of homelessness is that they are not insurmountable.
“Scotland is a small enough country, a compassionate enough country and a collaborative enough country, where nobody has to be homeless here. If we put our heads together, we can wipe out homelessness in five years.
“It is not a question of resource; it is simply a question of focus. And what the participants have all done tonight, by giving up their beds, is put a razor-sharp focus on the issue. I would like to thank all of the participants for creating this movement. I would like to thank Clydesdale Bank for raising £500K. And I would like to thank EdIndex and Wheatley Group for making a bold commitment of offering almost 500 homes to rough sleepers and homeless people.
“We won’t end homelessness after one night, but we have made one giant leap towards that goal. And that is the victory of everyone who took part.”
Fundraising is open until Christmas Eve and donations can be made at www.sleepinthepark.co.uk.