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More to do on homelessness

SFHA recently represented members at the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group’s 7th Annual Homelessness event in Edinburgh’s Surgeons Hall.

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SFHA recently represented members at the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group’s 7th annual homelessness event in Edinburgh’s Surgeons Hall.

A ministerial address by Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart, revealed that despite Scotland being a world leader in tackling homelessness, more could be done across the sector to find lasting solutions.

The Minister outlined his plans for a person-centred approach to prevent homelessness, including the investment of £3 billion to fund 50,000 new affordable homes, action to tackle rogue landlords and the development of the Housing Options Toolkit.

The impact of welfare reform on homelessness was a particular focus of audience questions at the event. Mr Stewart told delegates the Scottish Government could not mitigate all benefit cuts but will look at how to best utilise current funds. He claimed the Government would have to become smarter with the resources it already has and re-think how it currently does things. He also agreed with delegates that more work had to be done to prevent homelessness for those leaving prison.

Michael McClements, COSLA Policy Manager, in his address at the event, spoke of particular concerns about funding for 18–21-year-olds who make up a large proportion of homeless people. The organisation is eagerly awaiting details of the scope of exemptions to new welfare proposals from the UK Government in order to prepare a plan for the future in this respect.

Zhan McIntyre, Policy Lead at SFHA, said:

“Homelessness is one of the most extreme markers of social inequality and has terrible impacts on individuals as well knock on impacts on society. For many people, homelessness is a symptom of years of poverty, trauma and inequality. Increasing the supply of affordable homes is part of the solution, but housing providers cannot do this alone.

The event provided a good opportunity to talk to stakeholders about engaging health and social care colleagues in tackling the underlying issues that often cause homelessness.

“A few points about the role of housing associations in tackling homelessness were raised at the event that I would like to explore further with members. One was a, rather unfair I thought, suggestion that some housing associations are not fully contributing to re-housing homeless households through the Section 5 referral route. The second suggestion was that some homeless households were being prevented from taking up a tenancy with social landlord.

“I hope to get some views from members about these issues and will raise these through conversations and at the Housing Management Forums. If people would like to share their views before that, please contact me.”

You can contact Zhan at zmcintyre@sfha.co.uk

A full summary of the day can be found on the SFHA website.

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