Night shelters to be replaced with rapid rehousing welcome centres
Night shelters across Scotland will be replaced with rapid rehousing welcome centres for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough this winter, in the Scottish Government’s updated plans for tackling homelessness.
The centres will provide emergency accommodation for people who have no other options, encouraging them to move on to other services. People using the centres will be offered targeted support, including for wellbeing, health and social care issues, legal rights, employment and welfare.
Announced today in an updated action plan for tackling homelessness, the centres are part of plans to phase out night shelters entirely by expanding rapid rehousing approaches such as Housing First that provide settled accommodation as quickly as possible.
The Ending Homelessness Together updated plan also contains actions that will:
- Minimise the risk of evictions
- Strengthen protections for people experiencing domestic abuse
- Give people with lived experience of homelessness or rough sleeping a greater say in the development of policy
- Explore alternative routes to reducing migrant homelessness.
Kevin Stewart, housing minister, who co-chairs the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group, said: “Our vision is of a Scotland with no need for night shelters – where everyone has a home that meets their needs.
“Since our plan for tackling homelessness was first published in 2018 we have delivered on many of the urgent issues facing homeless people. The Scottish Government’s swift response to coronavirus has led to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of people sleeping rough and we must not let the problem return.
“This updated action plan renews our commitment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping once and for all, particularly by expanding services such as Housing First that provide longer-term accommodation and give homeless people the time and space to establish new lives for themselves.”
He added: “We are also placing even greater emphasis on preventing homelessness in the first place, and our new rapid rehousing welcome centres and are a first step to ending the use of night shelters altogether. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this updated plan.”
Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson and the strategy group’s other co-chair, added: “The pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of having a safe and comfortable home that meets our needs. However, we know that the impacts of the crisis have not been felt equally. People facing poverty, inequality and other social harms have felt the impact far more greatly. Local Government has shared the ambition to end homelessness and our resolve to do this is now stronger than ever.
“The updated action plan sets out an inclusive and human rights-based approach focused on preventing homelessness, responding quickly, working together with our partners across sectors, taking a person-centred approach which is tailored to reflect individual needs and circumstances. I am grateful to the partners who have contributed to this plan, in particular to those with lived experience of homelessness. We must not allow the deepening of inequalities in our response and recovery to the pandemic, and ending homelessness is vital in preventing this.”
Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes, chair of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, commented: “The ambition shown by the Scottish Government in publishing a revised Action Plan is brilliant to see. It builds on unprecedented action throughout the pandemic to protect people experiencing homelessness, and shows renewed ambition - including a commitment to move away from night shelters. The outbreak has shown that we can tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping when the will is there.
“As the economic impact of the outbreak continues to be felt, it is more important than ever to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place, and ensuring that if they do, they are helped to find somewhere safe and settled straight away. These actions must be a priority to ensure that Scotland continues towards ending homelessness for good.”
Commenting on the updated Ending Homeless Together Action Plan, Maggie Brünjes, chief executive at Homeless Network Scotland, said: “Home has never been so important – home saves lives. It is right that the Scottish Government has published this enhanced action plan based on everything we now know.
“This was an already ambitious plan, now going further, while holding firm to the guiding principles of prevention and rapid rehousing. Among the changes, dormitory style winter night shelters will not feature in our response to homelessness in Scotland this year.
“The night shelter providers, Glasgow City Mission and Bethany Christian Trust in Edinburgh, have worked closely with the two city councils and the Scottish Government to provide self-contained, en-suite rooms with rapid links to housing, welfare and support services. These Rapid Rehousing Welcome Centres will transform the rough sleeping safety net and I want to thank our third sector and local authority colleagues for such a progressive achievement.”