Rent arrears must not end in homelessness
Scotland’s Housing First Conference on 31 March, taking place in person once again after two years online, will consider how a ‘no evictions into homelessness’ approach could work for tenants and landlords – and if it could be woven through the future Scottish rental strategy as a guiding principle.
The Scottish Government is consulting on ‘A New Deal for Tenants - rented sector strategy’ that seeks to improve accessibility, affordability and standards across the whole rented sector. That consultation frames what is expected to be a popular afternoon Break Out at the Housing First conference starting at 1.30pm hosted by Yvonne Gavan, Scottish Government and Ruth Whatling, Homeless Network Scotland.
A New Deal for Tenants also commits to building on learning from the temporary Covid-19 eviction ban and consider how to further protect tenants from being evicted over the winter period. The conference will explore this theme at a ‘Housing ends Homelessness’ session hosted by Callum Chomczuk, national director of Chartered Institute of Housing with guests David Bookbinder, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, Lorna Cameron, Horizon Housing Association, Eileen McMullan, SFHA and Nicola McQuiston, Wheatly Group.
Alongside many other issues, it is an opportunity to unpick how the ‘no evictions into homelessness’ principle, a pillar of the Everyone Home Collective 2022 plan, could operate in practice as part of the rented sector strategy. And specifically asking if it is possible to end to all evictions into homelessness, all year round?
Maggie Brünjes, chief executive of Homeless Network Scotland, which is running the conference, said: “There should be no circumstances in Scotland when anyone is evicted with nowhere to go. The Scottish Government’s New Deal for Tenants is an opportunity to pin that principle and consider what practical measures are required to ensure arrangements work for tenants and landlords.
“The stop on evictions during the pandemic was essential to protect public health and prevent homelessness. That first year of the pandemic may be too much of a one-off to benchmark but we can see a negligible impact on rent arrears. So, the question must follow, ‘Does the threat of eviction influence people in the way that has been long been assumed’.”
The conference gets underway with A Well-Lit Path, focusing on learning and experiences at the end of Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder that launched officially in April 2019. This panel session is hosted by Sir Andrew Cubie, chair of Social Bite and former chair of the Housing First Advisory Group.
Sir Andrew Cubie said: “It is a pleasure to be taking part in this ‘in person’ event. It comes as the Pathfinder draws to a close, providing an opportunity to mark the achievements of this remarkable programme. Just as important is the focus on the future with an ambitious, scaled-up Housing First as part of Scotland’s transition to rapid rehousing, ending homelessness for the vast majority of those who take up a tenancy. In many respects this conference takes place at a pivotal time, making it an essential booking for the many who have contributed up to this point and for those who will take it forward.”
Delegates are invited to reconnect at the venue after the conference and join colleagues and speakers for a glass of wine or a soft drink and snacks – an informal opportunity to catch up or make new connections.
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