Officials concerned about rising homelessness risk People’s fragile finances stressed during action plan discussion
A Highland councillor has warned of a potential homelessness “tsunami” due to the fragility of many residents’ finances.
Deputy leader Alasdair Christie, gave the warning as councillors discussed a report prepared for the Scottish Government on its plans to tackle homelessness in the region.
Mr Christie, who is also general manager of Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Surveys show that most people only have enough funds to last until their next pay cheque
“That’s how fragile the sustainability of their housing situation may be.
“Youjustneedanevent here like the Michelin job losses in Dundee to gener- ate a tsunami of homelessness coming towards us.”
For the first time, all councils must submit a five-year Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan to the Scottish Government.
Highland Council says it will focus on preventing homelessness.
It wants to cut the time – up to a year– households are in temporary accommodation, help staff make better use of existing housing stock and help homeless households access the right type of support.
Head of housing David Goldie said the council was trying to reduce its use of houses in multiple occupation and poor quality temporary accommodation.
At present there are 550 households in temporary accommodation, with the vast majority in Inverness.
He said there are also pressures in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, and Strathspey.
Mr Goldie said the council is working on a business case to build its own specialist housing for homeless people with multiple, complex needs.
Mr Christie said this was progress towards changing lives and restoring hope.
Councillor Richard Laird said he supported the action plan in the light of how the UK-wide housing crisis is affecting Highland communities, where 25% of homeless are aged 18-25.
He said: “We need to push to have more affordable housing in rural communities to keep young people within their support network.
“We need to support those who can’t sustain tenancies in the long-term.
“We also need to stop the private sector charging high prices for B&Bs and temporary accommodation, inflicting a massive penalty on the council.”
Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans said: “A lot of homeless people are the victims of circumstance.
“My ward is the most affluent in Highland but the problem is here too; my case load is getting fuller with people with problems from the DWP or Universal Credit, leaving the council to pick up the pieces.”