Work to start on second homes-for-life development in Edinburgh

Keys have been handed over this week to community benefit society Common Ground Against Homelessness (CGAH) for a property in Peffermill, which will become a second homes-for-life development in the capital.

Work to start on second homes-for-life development in Edinburgh

(from left) Francis Barkey, board member, CGAH; Helen Carlin, founder, CGAH; Tom Muir, chair, CGAH and Wendy Sneddon, chair, Rowan Alba

CGAH will refurbish and lease the property to Rowan Alba, providing homes-for-life for nine former street homeless men, mirroring the successful homes-for-life approach as pioneered by Rowan Alba at Thorntree Street in Leith, where the average length of stay is seven years.

The unique model delivers secure tenancies to older people with a history of repeat homelessness and alcohol dependency issues. Funds for the Peffermill property were raised through the sale of community shares at the end of 2020, supported by Community Shares Scotland. The share offer exceeded its £650,00 target, raising £715,00 in just seven weeks.

Grant funding was also obtained from Nationwide Building Society, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, Crisis: Home for All Grants and The Screwfix Foundation.

Helen Carlin, CEO of Rowan Alba, said: “We are the only organisation in the UK offering homes-for-life to those with a history of repeat homelessness.  Current Scottish Government plans only accommodate 80% of those currently homeless in Scotland. Rowan Alba know the remaining 20% well and these are the people whom we support every day in homes-for-life in at Thorntree Street. The development at Peffermill  will deliver the same pioneering service, offering safe and secure permanent accommodation, support with physical and emotional health and help with accepting and managing alcohol use for service users.”

She added: “Working with Common Ground Against Homelessness, our vision is to develop at least two homes-for-life annually for however long it takes to eradicate street homelessness. Deaths among homeless people have risen by more than a third in just a year. 176 of these deaths were in Scotland. Our pioneering home-for-life model allows us to reach the persistent street homeless who are typically deemed ‘unsuitable’ or too challenging. Most have a long-term history of problematic alcohol use and a key part of our work is our volunteer Community Alcohol Related  Damage Service (CARDS) which is available to anyone who needs it and provides a crucial befriending service for service users.”

The commencement of works at Peffermill follows the announcement that Helen Carlin has been named Director of the Year at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2021, in recognition of the successful community shares offer for Peffermill and the pioneering home-for-life model which she wants to replicate across the UK.

Ms Carlin said: “We want to establish a long-term, sustainable solution to homelessness in Scotland, using a model that can be replicated across the entire country. Our residents are accepted for who they are and are supported every day, without judgment, with every aspect of their lives. They are protected by Scottish-Secured Tenancies and this approach leads to a sustained 60% reduction in alcohol consumption. Most residents do not move on, instead accepting Thorntree Street as their ‘home for life’. The same will be true of Peffermill  when it is completed.”

The development of Peffermill is expected to be completed by early 2022 and will open its doors soon afterwards.

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