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Scale of Scotland’s housing crisis laid bare in Shelter Scotland report

High proportion of private renters and young adults needing help 

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Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland has released new figures showing the scale and impact of Scotland’s housing crisis in its new ‘Impact Report.

The report shows that from April 20016 to March 2017, the charity helped more than 21,000 people or individuals via its free national helpline, digital chat service and one-to-one advice sessions. There were also more than 825,000 unique visits to its online Get Advice pages in Scotland.

Around 46% of people needing help were private renters, which the charity said is disproportionate to the size of the private rented sector which provides only 14% of homes in Scotland.

Of all people helped, 46% were between 16 and 34-years-old which indicates that a higher proportion of younger people are bearing the brunt of Scotland’s housing crisis.

The main reason people gave for needing help (44%) was ‘keeping their home’ i.e. struggling to afford their housing costs or facing eviction. Twenty-nine per cent of people who came to Shelter Scotland last year wanted help to ‘find a home’ – including advice and assistance with homelessness. More than 1,000 people came to the charity for help who were already homeless.

Alison Watson, Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“Last year, we were busier than ever helping people with bad housing and homelessness. This report shows the disproportionate impact of Scotland’s housing crisis on young people and private renters, who are both over-represented in the number of people we helped. 

“The terrible shortage of truly affordable homes, harsh welfare reforms, stagnant wages and the high cost of keeping a roof over their head are the main reasons driving people to ask for help.

“Struggling to afford or pay housing costs is the biggest presenting problem people have when coming to us for help.”

Alison Watson added:

“The statistics speak for themselves – on average, a household in Scotland becomes homeless every 19 minutes. We are seeing more reports of rough sleepers dying on our city streets. Unknown numbers are sofa surfing with friends and families, as they don’t have, or cannot afford, a home of their own. Our teams were contacted by more than 1,000 households who were already homeless.

“Behind those statistics are people, families, individuals – people on low incomes, people with complex needs, people in crisis – some of the most vulnerable people on our society.

“These are the people we help day-in and day-out and, until there’s a decent, safe and secure home for everyone, we’ll be here to do whatever we can to help everyone in Scotland facing bad housing and homelessness who may need our expert advice and support.”

Alison Watson concluded:

“Our Impact Report also shows the tremendous amount of work that we do behind the scenes to ensure that housing policy in Scotland is robust and protects as many people as possible from bad practice – such as the 19 policy papers and 25 responses to Scottish Government consultations we published last year alone.

“And – along with 26 campaign days in towns and cities throughout Scotland and the more than 600 people we provided training to – it’s been an incredibly busy year, and the next 12 months are set to be more of the same.

“We thank all our supporters, volunteers and staff for ensuring we can carry-on delivering the vital support and advice to the people who need us most.”