Housing

Scottish charities join forces for ‘triple-lock’ to end rough sleeping

The Everyone Home collective – including leading charities Crisis, Shelter and Simon Community Scotland – want a boost to housing supply and strict evictions rules to tackle homelessness post-pandemic

homelessness and Rough sleeping Alexander Baxevanis

The number of people deemed to be 'living on the streets' in London is now the highest since 2019. Image credit: Alexander Baxevanis/Flickr

Influential charities have delivered a joint plan to end rough sleeping and destitution to the Scottish Government today in a bid to ensure people do not return to the streets after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Everybody Home collective is made up of 19 charities – including leading homelessness groups like Crisis, Homeless Network Scotland and Social Bite – and they have joined forces to prevent a looming homelessness crisis in the country due to the disruption and economic hardship to come.

The collective are highlighting three key asks that experts and academics believe could permanently end rough sleeping – a ‘triple lock’ of measures to protect progress and underpin next steps.

A focus on prevention is one of their asks, with a call to boost housing capacity and make a particular commitment to increase the supply of social-rent homes, which have been severely underdeveloped in the UK-wide housing crisis. Everybody Home is also prioritising permanently preventing a return to previous levels of rough sleeping and called for no evictions into homelessness, the end of avoidable evictions and the threat of illegal evictions.

Scotland has a unique window to end rough sleeping and mitigate the impact of all forms of homelessness

Holyrood will also be presented with a framework for offering support to local authorities, private landlords, tenants and housing associations as well as a framework to support rapid scaling of Housing First across all areas in Scotland.

Housing First has been at the core of Scotland’s efforts to end rough sleeping once and for all in recent years. Earlier this month, Homeless Network Scotland reported that the Housing First Pathfinder had housed 250 people across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling and Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire in its first year. There is an intention to include around 200 people, who are currently being housed to protect them from Covid-19, in the scheme after the pandemic.

Patrick McKay, chair of Homeless Network Scotland and operations director, Turning Point Scotland, insisted that the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together plan, drawn up in November 2018, was showing results, but a rapid response is required to stop the Covid-19 pandemic leading to a homelessness crisis.

He said: “Since March we have managed to accommodate and support all those who wanted to be indoors, including people with no recourse to public funds such as people seeking asylum in Scotland. Throughout, local and national government, charities, health and housing associations have worked together.

“It is now imperative to secure that progress. The pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on people who experience all types of disadvantage, potentially driving up homelessness. By implementing the measures outlined in this plan, Scotland has a unique window to end rough sleeping and mitigate the impact of all forms of homelessness.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, added: “The move to get everyone sleeping on our streets inside has shown it is possible to end rough sleeping. We see an opportunity for Scotland to become the first nation in Great Britain to end homelessness.

“The Scottish Government laid out its ambitions to achieve this in its Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan – we must seize the moment and act now to ensure every one of us has a safe and settled home.”

Simon Community Scotland, along with partner frontline organisations including Bethany Christian Trust, were funded to accommodate people who were sleeping rough at the beginning the period when restrictions came into effect.

They are part of the collective alongside Street Soccer Scotland, led by Big Issue Changemaker David Duke, while Aberdeen Cyrenians, Cyrenians, CCPS Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, Four Square Aspire (representing the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness), Glasgow City Mission, Heriot-Watt University (I-SPHERE), Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers, Rock Trust, Scottish Refugee Council, Shelter Scotland and Ypeople round out the 19 charities.

We also want to prevent anyone becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic

The Scottish Government has already ensured that people will only be housed in temporary accommodation for up to one week before being to move into a more settled home as part of a new regulation.

Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government, housing and planning, told The Big Issue earlier this month: “As well as helping those sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation, we also want to prevent anyone becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic.”

To read more from Stewart and Britain’s leaders on how they plan to end rough sleeping, head here.

Image: Alexander Baxevanis

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