Shelter Scotland voices concerns over lack of suitable homes for homeless people

Shelter Scotland voices concerns over lack of suitable homes for homeless people

Scottish ministers have been warned the homelessness system to safeguard people who have suffered domestic and sexual abuse is “struggling to cope” as more than 14,000 Scottish households are “effectively trapped in temporary accommodation”.

Shelter Scotland has warned that the SNP’S process for ensuring those facing homelessness are given settled accommodation is “still stuck on the starting blocks” due to a lack of suitable homes.

Rough sleepers, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have been temporarily housed in hotels during the pandemic, however, the charity has highlighted concerns that no plan has been established for when the accommodation is no longer available.

Shelter Scotland has also raised fears vulnerable people are not being given the adequate support they need, The Herald reports. 

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, has said temporarily moving rough sleepers off the streets is “a very welcome measure”.

She said: “I think there’s a lot of success in terms of taking that as an opportunity to say ‘here’s a group of people who are now in one place, we can build relationships with them, we can understand what the issues are and work with them to make sure the right support is put in place so they can sustain accommodation in future’.

“Our concern would be that’s not happening for everyone, particularly people who have more complex needs – I’m thinking particularly of those who have substance misuse issues.”

Ms Watson has stressed large numbers of vulnerable people, particularly women, being brought together in hotels without adequate support is a “dangerous” situation.

She said: “We are also aware of some women in hotels who have had a background in sexual abuse or a background in domestic abuse and what we see is a system struggling to cope, to put enough support in place that we avoid a situation where, in effect, we’re bringing together in these hotels a large number of people who have very significant vulnerabilities. To us, that feels dangerous in the context of not then having significant support, not sufficient accommodation to move people on to.

“Particularly in our two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, we’ve still got hundreds of people being housed in hotels and we are really struggling to see the flow of accommodation to take them out of those hotels and give them permanent accommodation.”

Scottish Women’s Aid has warned that the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland before the pandemic was domestic abuse. The support network said that as legal and social services have been scaled back, “challenges in escaping abusive partners have been further exacerbated”.

A spokeswoman added: “Our local Women’s Aid services have worked hard to ensure they could continue providing vital refuge accommodation throughout the pandemic and we have published guidance for registered social landlords encouraging them to safely continue with housing allocations throughout the pandemic, prioritising the needs and safety of survivors of abuse.

“But longer-term, systemic change is needed to improve housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Temporary accommodation can offer an important emergency safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless, but it should be a purely temporary measure. That is why we are investing over £30 million to support councils prioritise settled accommodation for all. We have extended the use of temporary accommodation to keep people safe from coronavirus.

“Scotland has led the way in the delivery of social and affordable housing across the UK with almost 97,000 affordable homes since 2007, nearly 67,000 of which were for social rent. We are committed to continuing to support the delivery of more social and affordable homes by investing more than £3.44 billion over the next five years to deliver more social and affordable homes.”

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