Issued by the Scottish Government
Local authorities across Scotland are teaming up to offer more options to people facing homelessness and are making significant inroads into the problem, a special seminar heard today.
All 32 councils are involved in regional hubs that examine individuals' options in the widest sense and are backed by £500,000 from the Scottish Government to cover staff training and service development.
In North Ayrshire, since 2003, there has been a 57.5 per cent reduction in homelessness. Of 436 private sector households threatened with homelessness during that period, none went on to present as homeless.
The local authority and NHS Ayrshire and Arran have also jointly funded a dedicated public health nurse to ensure homeless people can access primary health care.
In the Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders Hub, six councils have commissioned research to help increase access to the private rented sector for homeless households. A media campaign - urging households who are worried about housing difficulties to seek early advice – has also been started.
In June, The Highland Council established a team of homeless prevention officers based in Inverness. In two months the number of homeless presentations in the city has dropped by over 50 per cent and the number of households being referred for B&B accommodation has reduced by over 60 per cent.
Addressing the Housing Option Seminar in Edinburgh, Housing Minister Keith Brown said:
"Scotland has an important, but challenging, homelessness target: that by the end of December 2012, all unintentionally homeless households will have the right to settled accommodation.
"The main priority of the hubs is to focus on the prevention of homelessness through a combination of sharing best practice, joint training and commissioning joint research.
"Councils across the country are to be applauded for the manner in which they have enthusiastically embraced prevention as the way forward in the fight to tackle homelessness."