244 people died while homeless in 2022
An estimated 244 people died while homeless in Scotland in 2022, according to new figures from National Records of Scotland.
The Homeless Deaths 2022 report shows that while the total figure is similar to the previous year, the number of deaths attributed to drug misuse among those experiencing homelessness fell from 127 to 89.
Almost three-quarters of those who died were male. The number of deaths among females returned to levels seen in previous years after a drop between 2020 and 2021.
Beth Watson, senior assistant statistician, said: “Our estimate shows a small drop in the number of deaths among people experiencing homelessness between 2021 and 2022 but this change is not statistically significant.
“Our figures go back to 2017 when there were 164 deaths. While the year-on-year change is small, the number is still significantly higher than it was five years ago.”
Homelessness services run by local authorities provide temporary accommodation for those without a settled home and these figures cover this much larger group as well as the minority who were sleeping rough.
Almost half of the people who died while homeless in Scotland in 2022 were under 45 years old. Drug misuse accounted for 36% of all deaths among people experiencing homelessness. Half of all deaths were classed as “external causes” which include most drug misuse deaths, accidents, suicide and assault.
The figures come from a report classed as Official Statistics in Development because they use a new and evolving methodology which has not yet been assessed against the rigorous quality standards of National Statistics.
Scottish Labour has warned that ‘one death is too many’ and warned that both the SNP and the Greens are ‘in denial’ about the scale of Scotland’s housing crisis .
Scottish Labour housing spokesperson Mark Griffin said: “These truly heart-breaking figures lay bare the scale of Scotland’s housing crisis.
“Every single life lost due to homelessness is a tragedy, and even one death is too many. Each number represents someone who was let down by the systems meant to support them and lost their life because of it.
“Since 2017, these numbers have spiralled out of control, but the SNP and the Greens are in complete denial about the work that needs to be done to reverse it.
“We simply cannot sit idly by and allow this tragedy to continue. We need to declare a housing emergency in Scotland right now and work with local charities and authorities to ensure as much support as possible is given to those experiencing homelessness.”
Housing minister Paul McLennan said the Scottish Government is committed to preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.
He added: “Every single one of these deaths is one too many and I extend my sincerest condolences to all those affected. We know that people who have experience of homelessness are much more likely to have poor physical and mental health than the general population. Scotland has the strongest rights in the UK for people experiencing homelessness, but we are committed to ensuring that no one need become homeless in the first place.
“We are providing local authorities with £30.5 million annually for their work to prevent homelessness. Separately, we are providing a total of £100m from our multi-year Ending Homelessness Together fund. I have also regularly met with representatives from Scotland’s local authorities and have actively engaged with them to find solutions to help address housing pressures in their area.
“We have also committed to invest at least £60m to help local authorities and registered social landlords acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes, as part of our wider Affordable Housing Supply Programme investment of £752m this year.
“Scotland has led the UK in providing affordable housing, having delivered 123,985 affordable homes since 2007. We are making available £3.5 billion over this parliamentary term to support the delivery of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, 70% of which will be for social rent.
“One focus of the national mission to reduce drug deaths - backed by £250m investment over the life of the Parliament - is to strengthen partnerships between health and other services to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and have multiple needs, such as experiencing homelessness. We are also prioritising homelessness as part of our Suicide Prevention strategy.”