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Shocking scale of child homelessness in Scotland revealed

New analysis from Shelter Scotland shows shocking scale of child homelessness in Scotland.

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New analysis shows that in 2017/18 around 38 children a day were made homeless in Scotland – a total of 14,074 – equivalent to six or seven children in every Scottish school.

The analysis, published in three new policy briefings by Shelter Scotland, also shows that, on average, homeless families with children were having to spend 25% longer living in temporary accommodation than households without children – 201 days compared to 161. The analysis also showed that 13% of households spent more than a year in temporary accommodation.

Alison Watson, Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“This has got to stop. We must find ways of supplying enough permanent accommodation for homeless families and individuals. At the heart of the problem is the acute shortage of housing. We need to build many more truly affordable homes of the right type in places where people want to live in order to fix our housing emergency.”

Shelter Scotland also highlighted the drastic effects homelessness can have on children and young people across many areas of their lives - from health to education - leaving many children unable to realise their potential. These effects are more profound the longer a child is homeless.

Analysis of health and homelessness statistics showed that 51% of people who experienced homelessness did not suffer from drug, alcohol or mental health issues – contrary to popular belief - although these issues were linked to almost half of homeless cases. The analysis showed the inextricable link between bad health and homelessness and how people often had significantly increased interaction with health services prior to making a homeless application. At its most stark, the impact of homelessness on people’s health is that death rates are higher among people who have experienced homelessness and they are more likely to die at a younger age.

Alison further commented:

“To have a better chance of preventing homelessness, particularly among people with complex needs, our analysis points to the need for an integrated response from health and housing services to recognise and act upon the very clear warning signs of a person spiralling toward homelessness.”

Commenting on the analysis, Zhan McIntyre, SFHA Policy Lead commented:

“These figures are truly shocking. This latest analysis confirms what many working in the housing sector have known for some time: homelessness and health are inextricably inter-linked.

“SFHA Members are working hard to increase supply of affordable good quality homes, and we are supporting our members to contribute to the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans that will be developed by local authorities across Scotland.

“But housing providers can’t do this alone. SFHA calls on Health and Social Care Partnerships across Scotland to recognise these figures for what they are – evidence of a national emergency – and commit to working in partnership with housing providers across Scotland to reverse this scandalous situation.”