Ending Homelessness Together
Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning addressed delegates at the CIH Housing Summit on 8 October, sharing details of the Scottish Government’s revised plan to end homelessness. In this blog, the Minister sets out some of the key points.
The shared vision to end homelessness and rough sleeping has not changed during the pandemic but our determination has increased. Fundamentally we want everyone to have a warm safe home to live in and so for anyone affected by homelessness we want them to have access to the housing and support they need.
The emergency accommodation arrangements we’ve used over the summer to protect people from coronavirus were necessary but always a temporary measure, not a long-term solution. We have been working hard to support everyone out of these arrangements and into settled accommodation.
That’s why I asked Jon Sparkes of Crisis to reconvene the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) to guide us on what we need to do now and in the future to end homelessness in light of Covid-19.
I am very grateful to HARSAG members for their swift work, commitment to ending homelessness and expert guidance on navigating our way through the pandemic and into recovery. Their comprehensive recommendations alongside our existing plans for tackling homelessness has led to an updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan which we published jointly with Cosla, this morning (October 8).
The updated plan also shows where we are already delivering on many of the recommendations that relate to the current public health emergency, for example we have:
• provided over £1.5 million to third sector organisations to fund hotel accommodation for people who were rough sleeping.
• introduced legislation to protect renters from eviction.
• brought forward plans so that everyone experiencing homelessness has access to suitable quality accommodation.
• provided funds to prevent homelessness and destitution among people who have no recourse to public funds.
• supported local authorities with rapid rehousing transition plans so that ‘rapid rehousing by default’ is at the centre of their recovery plans.
Our aim now is to draw on what we have learned, retain our collective strength and achieve our goal of eradicating rough sleeping and ending homelessness so we have new actions in the updated plan too.
Night shelters will be replaced with new rapid rehousing welcome centres for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough, in updated plans for tackling homelessness. Our aim is to provide targeted, person-centred support, which includes health and social care, legal advice, employment and welfare help.
In addition we are also committing to strengthen the voice of lived experience in the policy-making process, advance legislative protections for people experiencing domestic abuse and we will explore alternative routes to reduce migrant homelessness and a commitment to equality runs through the plan.
Preventing homelessness is about more than finding somewhere else to live: it’s about providing people with a sense of security that comes with having a home.