Four in ten Scots ‘only two pay cheques’ away from homelessness

More than a million adults in Scotland believe that they, or someone they know, could experience homelessness, according to new research.

A study into social attitudes to homelessness, commissioned by charity Street Soccer Scotland, found that 31% of Scots (equivalent to around 1.4 million adults), 41% of renters and 25% of homeowners or people with a mortgage in Scotland, said that they, or someone they know, could lose their home in the future.

The research also showed that 41% of people believe that if they lost their job they would struggle to pay their rent or mortgage within two months.

A quarter (25%) of people said that they, or someone they know, has already experienced homelessness.

Street Soccer Scotland founder and chief executive David Duke, said the ‘shocking’ statistics show that homelessness can happen to anyone and often even a small change in circumstances can send people into a spiral towards homelessness, but that stigma and embarrassment often means people don’t get the help they need.

David Duke who himself was homeless for three years, said: “We need to end the stigma of homelessness; the us and them mentality. As these figures show, it can happen to any of us.

“Homelessness does not discriminate. We often think of it as something that happens to other people – to certain people in society. Our research shows that far from being an isolated problem, the risk of homelessness is too high for too many people in Scotland.

“It can take just one small change in circumstances. For me, it was bereavement when my dad died, but it can equally be illness or having your hours reduced at work, that sends people into a spiral towards homelessness.

“It doesn’t just apply to people on the fringes of society, we’re talking about people who have jobs and mortgages who are also at risk, as well as people renting their homes. People who think it could never happen to them.

“With so many of us believing we’re at risk of homelessness, it’s time we take stock of the way we view and treat homeless people. One day, it could happen to us.”

Younger age groups were most likely to say they could face homelessness, with 39% of 16-24 years olds claiming that they, or someone they know, could face homelessness in the future, 37% of 25-34 years olds and 36% of 35-44 year olds.

Meanwhile, 25% of 55-64 year olds said they, or someone they know could face homelessness, and 18% of over 65s.

More than half (52%) of the people surveyed said they wouldn’t know what to do if they became homeless, something David Duke says should be a cause for concern.

In 2016-17, 34,100 households made homelessness applications to local authorities across Scotland.

It’s estimated that every 19 minutes a household becomes homeless in Scotland. Meanwhile, 5,000 people sleep on Scotland’s streets each year.

David Duke currently sits on the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group which has been tasked with reducing the number of rough sleepers this winter, as well as changing public perceptions.

He added: “Getting rid of misconceptions around homelessness, and the stigma it brings, will not only help people who are homeless today, but also future generations. If we get rid of stigma, people will be less embarrassed about getting help before it’s too late. They’ll get help earlier and hopefully prevent homelessness happening in the first place.”

A recent report by Street Soccer Scotland showed that two thirds of Scots – equivalent to almost 3 million adults - claim they don’t stop to speak to people who are homeless, with 41% saying they were ‘fearful’ of stopping to speak to rough sleepers.

The report also found a third of people dismiss homelessness as a self-inflicted problem.

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