Scottish MSPs want your ideas on tackling homelessness

A Scottish Parliament committee is exploring the 'Housing First' strategy, but wants more ideas on how to help people off the streets

Politicians at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh are looking for new ideas on how best to tackle homelessness.

Holyrood’s local government and communities committee wants to know more about why people are living on the streets, and whether the services designed to help people in housing crises are really working.

And Scotland’s MSPs are open to exploring the “Housing First” strategy taking off in the United States and other parts of Europe.

Rather than make homeless people through bureaucratic hurdles in hostels and pass various good behaviour tests to make sure they are “housing ready,” the strategy sees homeless people placed in a house first before support is provided from a distance.

We want to hear views on a wide variety of housing and homelessness issues

“On the committee’s visits to homeless shelters across Scotland, we heard that many still face the misery of homelessness and rough sleeping in our cities and rural areas,” said committee convener, the SNP’s Bob Doris.

“We now want to hear views on a wide variety of housing and homelessness issues across Scotland. Our committee also want to explore best practice internationally when it comes to tackling homelessness.”

Doris cited Finland’s experiment with Housing First, saying it was worth exploring the idea that “once the person has a stable home, they can address issues that caused them to be at risk of homelessness in the first place.”

A recent study on Housing First by researchers at the University of York showed great promise for the model in the UK. People housed by services using the Housing First approach noted better physical and mental health, a fall in drug use and anti-social behavior, and greater contact with family.

Researchers found potential annual savings in emergency housing costs and services ranged between £3,048 and £4,794 per person.

Eddie, 61, a volunteer with charity Simon Community Scotland who was homeless for two years, said: “I’d encourage homeless people, groups and the general public to send across their views to the Holyrood committee. This is a chance for your voice to be heard.”

Photo: Gary Knight via flickr, CC

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