Spare room scheme explored for young homeless people

Research is underway to find out if people with spare rooms could host homeless young people if there was a project to offer them payment, training and support in Scotland.

More than 7,000 people aged between 16 and 24 years old applied for help with homelessness from Scottish local authorities in 2016-2017.

While projects exist to provide supported lodgings for people leaving care, there are very few places in Scotland where schemes exist to match hosts with other young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Shelter Scotland and the Institute for Housing, Social Policy and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University are using an award of £46,107 from the Scottish Government-managed ESF Social Innovation Fund, to explore the idea of supporting members of the public to host young people who need accommodation and support.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Not every young person who is homeless or at risk of homelessness wants to move into their own tenancy straight away and we think there is a gap for a service which offers them a room with hosts who can offer them the home and support they need.

“Our aim is to find a new way of supporting these young people.”

Academics from I-SPHERE at Heriot-Watt University are exploring the views of young people and potential hosts as well as looking at how supported lodgings schemes work across the UK and the feasibility of bringing this model to Scotland.

Beth Watts, senior research fellow at I-SPHERE, said: “Young people are at substantially higher risk of experiencing homelessness than older age groups, and it’s absolutely crucial that a range of accommodation and support options are available to enable them to live the lives they wish to and pursue their ambitions.

“Supported Lodgings schemes operate successfully for this group outside of Scotland, and it’s time to take seriously existing evidence that supported placements in the community can offer real advantages compared to alternative housing options.”

Shelter Scotland will produce a report on the feasibility of supported lodgings in Scotland including estimates of the costs involved and outline plans for pilot projects in one urban and one rural community in Scotland.

People with spare rooms who are interested in helping young people at risk of homelessness are being sought to participate in focus groups across Scotland.