Of­fi­cials con­cerned about ris­ing home­less­ness risk Peo­ple’s frag­ile fi­nances stressed dur­ing ac­tion plan dis­cus­sion

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY SUSY MACAULAY

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.”

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