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MSPs take up homelessness review

3 May 2017

A Holyrood committee is appealing for views on what more can be done to tackle homelessness in Scotland.

MSPs on the Local Government & Communities Committee have launched a call for evidence as part of their project to find out more about the reasons why people become homeless and whether the services available to those facing housing crises are working effectively.

As part of their research, they have already visited homeless women and men in emergency accommodation and shelters in Perthshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and met with organisations providing frontline support.

Despite previous Scottish Government ambitions to eliminate homelessness, in 2015-16, 34,662 homeless applications were made to local authorities in Scotland. The majority tend to be from single, younger males, of white Scottish ethnicity, but around half of all homeless households are headed by someone aged under 30.

Female homeless applications are typically younger, with more female applications than male in the under 25s. Over half of all homeless applications in 2015-16 were due to relationship breakdown or being asked to leave.

Committee convener Bob Doris MSP commented: “The homeless people we met said that relationship breakdowns, disruptive family life or mental health issues were the main reasons for their lives spiralling out of control – leading to a chaotic life on the streets or sofa-surfing with nowhere permanent to live.

“We now want to hear views on a wide variety of housing and homelessness issues across Scotland. For example, how can we better support those with multiple or complex needs who are in danger of losing their homes? And is emergency accommodation meeting the needs of those desperately in search for shelter and support?”

He added: “Our committee also want to explore best practice internationally when it comes to tackling homelessness. For example, in Finland the ‘housing first’ model aims to offer housing as quickly as possible. The idea being that once the person has a stable home, they can address issues that caused them to be at risk of homelessness in the first place.”

Click here to view the call for evidence. Responses are invited by 14 June 2017.

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