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Homelessness rate in Scotland’s biggest city down by a third

New report finds pioneering scheme has helped to reduce number of people presenting as homeless. 

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A pioneering scheme in Scotland’s biggest city has helped cut the number of people presenting themselves as homeless.

An independent report says Housing Options in Glasgow has contributed to a 29% fall in homeless applications – from 8,299 a year in 2012/2013 to 5,929 in 2015/2016. The average drop in Scotland over the same period was only 13%.

The evaluation by Arneil Johnston also found that Housing Options, a multi-agency approach, stopped 4,320 people from experiencing a housing crisis by stepping in early with personalised support and advice.

The report said:

“Evidence that Housing Options has reduced the incidents of housing crisis in Glasgow is illustrated by a clear drop in the number of homeless presentations since the introduction of the model in 2012. Between June 2012 and June 2016, a 29% reduction in the number of homelessness applications has been measured which is greater than the rate of reduction in Scotland.”

In Glasgow, around 16,000 people experiencing housing problems, or facing the loss of their home, have been given advice each year through Housing Options. More than 50 partners across Glasgow have become involved including housing associations, homelessness services, social work, health services and employability schemes.

Housing Options is focused on finding early solutions and addressing the core reasons why someone is facing homelessness, such as mental health issues, low incomes, family problems and housing arrears – at the same time as addressing their immediate housing need. Support can include information on housing, as well as debt management, help with finding a job, or referrals to social care services.

Organisations work closely together to ensure that people facing homelessness are given a co-ordinated response, no matter which agency they come to.

Glasgow first introduced Housing Options as a pilot in the north west of the city in 2012. It was rolled out a year later and has expanded from six partners to 55.

The evaluation, by consultants Arneil Johnson looked at the city-wide roll out of the housing approach since the end of its pilot period in 2013, when it was used across the city.

Its key findings include:

  • Homelessness applications in Glasgow reduced by 29% since the launch of Housing Options from 8299 in 2012/13 to 5929 in 2015/16.
  • 27% of customers (4320 people) said Housing Options prevented a housing crisis for them
  • 38% of people who said they had no fixed address found a long-term solution in 12 weeks and 22% found a short-term solution
  • Housing Options was particularly successful for people with complex and multiple needs: 59% of this group found a solution within three months.
  • Money advice accessed through Housing Options and funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board prevented 107 people from becoming homeless and helped 70 people every month with their money problems
  • The number of abandoned tenancies fell by 20%.

Wheatley Group Director of Housing and Care Olga Clayton said:

“Housing Options is all about agencies working together to support people before they get into a crisis; giving them tailored advice and helping them understand their rights to have a safe place to live. This evaluation shows it has had a real impact on helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“But while it has made a big difference in preventing many people from becoming homeless, 5,929 homeless applications in a year is still 5,929 too many. It’s important that everyone involved in Housing Options continues to work together to build on the excellent work done to date.”

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