Along with homeless charity Social Bite, local authorities, third sector and housing providers the Scottish Government will support more than 800 people with complex needs to transition to a Housing First approach over the next three years, recognising a safe and secure home is the best base for recovery.
The move is part of the recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which include a move to Housing First and Rapid Rehousing, which have been accepted in principle by the Scottish Government.
The funding announcement was made at the SNP’s annual conference yesterday during which Ms Sturgeon spoke of the Scottish Government’s “moral responsibility” to end homelessness and rough sleeping.
The First Minister said: “Many people who become homeless or end up sleeping rough have complex needs that require specialist support as well as a house. Traditionally the approach has been to provide support and get a person ‘tenancy ready’ before giving them a house. But that can mean they spend long periods of time in temporary accommodation, making it harder for them to address the other issues they face.
“We want to change that, which is why we are working with Social Bite and others to invest in and expand Housing First to make it a key element of all homelessness services in Scotland. It is our priority to get a person into settled accommodation first, so they can then access support from the security of their own home.
“Now is the time for action, and to end homelessness in Scotland once and for all.”
The Housing First initiative has already had success in Scotland with 54 long term homeless people in Glasgow handed the keys to “a whole new life” thanks to the approach.
And a first year review of a project in Dundee, one of five Scottish pathfinder local authorities for the Housing First model, has found that good progress in being made towards it aim to provide up to 40 tenancies in the first of the two years of the programme.
Josh Littlejohn of Social Bite added: “I would like to offer my gratitude to the Scottish Government for this major £6.5m commitment to support Social Bite’s Housing First Program. The Housing First program is the result of a major collaborative effort which started with 8,000 members of the public sleeping out in Princes St Gardens last December and has since seen a range of housing providers pledge over 800 properties for Scotland’s most vulnerable homeless people to get their own place to call home.
“It is our firm belief that Scotland can be a country where no-one has to be homeless here. With this funding pledge, the Scottish Government have demonstrated a commitment that will see Scotland become by far the largest provider of ‘Housing First’ in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. What this means in reality, is that 830 people will be helped off the streets into housing with support and we will have taken a major step forward in re-structuring how we respond to homelessness as a society. In my view that amounts to a ‘game-changer’ when it comes to tackling the issue of homelessness in Scotland and the Scottish Government deserves the upmost credit for backing it.”
During her conference address, Ms Sturgeon called out Prime Minister Theresa May over lifting the borrowing cap.
The SNP, she said, had never applied the cap and over five years Scotland had built more council houses than south of the border.
“We’ve built more council houses than a country 10 times our size,” said Sturgeon. “That’s 78,000 new affordable homes in the SNP’s time in government.”
“And I can confirm today that we are on track to reach our 50,000 target in this term of parliament. That’s vital to meeting our moral responsibility to eradicate homelessness and rough sleeping,” she added.