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Helping homeless households
Housing Minister Keith Brown recently underlined the need for good quality temporary accommodation for homeless families.
Recent official statistics show a marked reduction in the numbers of children in temporary accommodation, down by 18 per cent in 2011 to 5,259.
Homelessness charity, Shelter Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have published guidance on standards in temporary accommodation.
The Minister, who pointed to the vast majority of temporary accommodation in Scotland as being of a high quality, urged both organisations to get round the table with the Scottish Housing Regulator and councils to discuss how best to use the guidance.
Mr Brown also praised local authorities for implementing the housing options approach to prevention, which has seen reductions in the use of temporary accommodation, particularly bed and breakfasts.
Keith Brown said:
“The vast majority of temporary accommodation in Scotland is of a high quality. There is no evidence of poor quality accommodation being routinely used across Scotland. However, the Scottish Government and local authorities are not complacent on this issue.
“The Scottish Government, local authorities and stakeholders such as Shelter all share the desire to ensure appropriate minimum standards in temporary accommodation are being met.
“The guidance published by Shelter and CIH offers useful pointers for local authorities when considering the provision of temporary accommodation.
“Through the activities of the Scottish Housing Regulator and the fact that we have had an Unsuitable Accommodation Order since 2004, which is enshrined in law and covers the least suitable forms of temporary accommodation for children and pregnant women, progress is being made. Breaches of this stringent order are very unusual.
“As John’s example demonstrates, local authorities such as North Ayrshire have also embraced the housing options approach to prevention, which has seen reductions in the use of temporary accommodation, particularly the case with the use of bed and breakfasts.”
John is a 43 year old single man who was presented as homeless following a period of sleeping on a church floor within a town in North Ayrshire.
A previous drug addict John had been down the homelessness route 2 years previous to this presentation. He had been rehoused into a SST – Council tenancy. His tenancy had broken down as he owed money to local drug dealers who had broken into his house threatened him. He had abandoned the house and it had been recovered by the Local Authority under a section 18.
On leaving his tenancy he had stayed c/o various addresses and eventually gone through drug rehabilitation in England. On returning from rehab he was really concerned with regards to making a homeless presentation in case people new where he was. He therefore had approached a local church who had agreed to allow him to sleep there at night.
Eventually he had had enough of living like this and approached the Council for assistance but again expressed his reluctance to make a homeless presentation.
A full housing options assessment was given and all is options were discussed. John moved into a private let within a few days he says he feels:
Safe and secure
That he was listened to and someone cared about his needs
He is particularly pleased re his secure door entry and
Describes his home as “his little piece of heaven”
John has been drug free and sustaining his accommodation for 2.5 years. In addition he is undertaking voluntary work with two local organisations working to engage young people with addiction issues within his community. He has advised that he “just wants to give something back”.