Dundee hails reduction in rough sleeping numbers

John Alexander
John Alexander

Dundee City Council’s housing convener has attributed the continuing decline in rough sleeping numbers to the city’s prevention approach to homelessness.

According to council statistics, homelessness applications have fallen by over 40 per cent, which is in excess of the national average of 36 per cent.

To be homeless, an individual does not necessarily have to be living on the street.

A variety of situations can fall into the definition, such as staying with friends and family, in a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel, or living in a house that is not suitable because of illness or disability.

Other criteria include living in an overcrowded home or living in otherwise poor conditions that affect personal health, or being at risk of violence at home.

Councillor John Alexander said that it was important to acknowledge the varying circumstances those without a home face.

He told The Courier: “We do not have a problem with rough sleeping in Dundee; we work with a couple of individuals that do rough sleep and are ready to offer them accommodation should they choose to accept.

“The fall in homelessness has been largely due to the refocusing of our service here in Dundee on prevention rather than crisis management – the earlier that you can get involved and help people who are facing a difficult situation, the better.

“We are ambitious in our aim to eradicate homelessness and, despite the challenges, we have had significant successes in supporting people finding themselves in a homeless situation.”

However, Michelle Harrow, Shelter Scotland Dundee’s community hub manager, said there is still an issue with permanent housing for homeless people.

Michelle said: “In Dundee, the problem is a severe shortage of permanent social housing so people can spend around 19 months in temporary accommodation.

“While this is better than sleeping rough it still doesn’t give people the settled accommodation they need to thrive.

“Everyone unintentionally homeless in Scotland already has a legal right to access temporary accommodation from their local council and when people come to us for help in Dundee we can find them somewhere safer than the streets.”

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