Nineteen influential charity sector organisations that are working to end homelessness will present a joint plan to the Scottish Government today.
Based around three key asks, The Collective, which includes academics from Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE), believe the plan could permanently end rough sleeping and destitution in Scotland as the country emerges from the pandemic.
The Collective, named Everyone Home, have agreed a ‘triple-lock’ of measures to protect the progress that has been made and underpin next steps.
Patrick McKay, chair of Homeless Network Scotland and operations director, Turning Point Scotland said: “The majority of people and organisations in Scotland that care about homelessness agree that the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Plan is the right approach, and we were making progress. However, the onset of this pandemic demanded a rapid response to keep people safe. Since March, we have managed to accommodate and support all those who wanted to be indoors, including people with no recourse to public funds such as people seeking asylum in Scotland. Throughout, local and national government, charities, health and housing associations have worked together.
“It is now imperative to secure that progress. The pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on people who experience all types of disadvantage, potentially driving up homelessness. By implementing the measures outlined in this plan, Scotland has a unique window to end rough sleeping and mitigate the impact of all forms of homelessness.”
To help set out a way forward in local and national efforts to tackle homelessness now and in the Future, the 19 organisations involved in the Collective have agreed priorities and set out a range of approaches:
- prioritise prevention, create as much housing capacity as we can now and make a longterm commitment to increase the supply of homes for social rent
- permanently prevent a return to previous levels of rough sleeping in all areas
- no evictions into homelessness, the end of avoidable evictions and the threat of illegal evictions.
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, director of I-SPHERE at Heriot-Watt University, said: “As the world continues to reel from the impact of this pandemic, it’s essential that we take urgent action to build on the positive impact of the work delivered to date. Scotland is already leading the way in terms of its approach to homelessness. Almost everyone who is homeless in Scotland is entitled to be rehoused by their local authority - a right that nobody has anywhere else. But now is the time to tackle head-on the well-recognised ‘pathways’ to homelessness with earlier intervention.”
Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, said: “The effort from Scottish Government, local councils and homelessness organisations to help and protect people experiencing homelessness through the outbreak has been remarkable. The move to get everyone sleeping on our streets inside has shown it is possible to end rough sleeping. We see an opportunity for Scotland to become the first nation in Great Britain to end homelessness.”
Alison Watson, deputy director Shelter Scotland, said: “The coronavirus crisis has exposed the deep divisions within Scottish society between those who have the security and safety of a good permanent home and those who do not. The remarkable effort to move people off the streets and to protect tenants facing eviction shows what can be done when the will is there. But these are temporary measures and there is a real risk that more people will be swept into homelessness in the months ahead.”
Simon Community Scotland, along with partner frontline organisations including Bethany Christian Trust, were funded to accommodate people who were sleeping rough at the beginning the period when restrictions came into effect.
Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Community Scotland, said: “As lockdown begins to ease this is the moment for frontline organisations to use the learning of working so closely with so many people and from delivering positive impacts.”
The Collective will also present a framework for offering support and guidance to local authorities, private landlords, tenants, housing associations as well as a framework to support rapid scaling of Housing First across all areas in Scotland. This will provide learning, guidance and tools for quality assurance, support and cost implications.
The plan will be submitted to the Scottish Government today with the 19 organisations continuing to develop and refine plans that will ensure an effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic as restrictions are lifted.