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Edinburgh seeks to redefine its anti-homelessness approach

Local authorities want to be able to help more people and intervene earlier in cases of homelessness in order to protect as many lives as possible

  • September 29, 2020 20:30
  • Author Anton Stoyanov
Medium scotland 4970689 1280

Back in 2018 local governments across Scotland developed their own plans and strategies for dealing with homelessness and strengthening support for those suffering from the phenomenon. Two years later, authorities in Edinburgh believe that their strategy needs to be expanded in order to meet the many challenges that have slowly built up.

Thus, Members of the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee, have been working on the city’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) before submitting it to central Scottish authorities for review.

Prevention and advanced care – cornerstones of a successful policy

The additions to the local government’s anti-homelessness approach will focus on several key areas – namely intervening earlier and actively working with those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Authorities also want to build on their experiences of handling the COVID-19 pandemic and their approach to rough sleepers during the outbreak.

In terms of prevention, the Edinburgh City Council wants to create a Youth Housing Club which will act as a central service that offers support to the city’s youth, faced with homelessness and its related issues. Furthermore, authorities want to launch a new homelessness prevention scheme and fund that will divert efforts to specific issues that might trigger and increase in homelessness.

A great point of pride for authorities in the Scottish capital is the fact that in the very first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, they successfully managed to move all families and pregnant women housed in B&Bs into social housing, which involved the rapid assessment of best approaches and schemes and ultimately lead to excellent results.

Authorities learned quite a few lessons from the first months of the pandemic, which they now want to implement as concrete policy proposals. In that vein, the additions to the RRTP include comprehensive plans for the creation of additional Council-owned or leased social housing and boosting the local government’s supply of furnished flats that act as temporary homes to those in need.

As explained by Councillor Kate Campbell, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener "The RRTP is our annual plan for homelessness and our annual assessment of where we are. It’s an incredibly important document because it shows us, in very stark terms, the scale of the challenge that we face. But it is also an opportunity to focus on innovation and there are some incredibly exciting projects within it that show our steadfast intent to tackle homelessness at its root.

We’ve got plans for more early intervention with a specialist, multi-skilled team which will intensively work with households at risk to prevent homelessness. Alongside this we are proposing investment in a youth homelessness hub and psychologists in hostels to give highly specialist support.”

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