Almost 70 percent of West Dunbartonshire’s council housing will be made available to those without a home – as new figures revealed a rise in homelessness.
Chiefs say they want to drive down the number of those in temporary accommodation and ensure faster access to settled accommodation is achieved.
It’s part of West Dunbartonshire Council’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP), which has been awarded £238,000 from the Scottish Government.
It aims to reduce the amount of time people spend in temporary accommodation and follows the “housing first” approach which has had a 100 percent success rate so far.
And it comes as new Scottish Government figures published last week showed a stark 23 percent rise in homelessness across the area.
There are concerns youth homelessness remains one of the highest in the country, with Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie warning of a “tidal wave of homelessness”.
Between April to September 2020, there were 448 households assessed as homeless in West Dunbartonshire and this increased to 549 in the same period in 2021.
An update was brought before the housing and communities committee last week.
Peter Barry, chief officer of housing and employability, said: “Tragically a number of residents of the housing first model have passed away but all other residents have sustained their tenancy so its 100 percent tenancy sustainment which I think is as good as it is surprising .
“Because of this exceptional pressure on homeless lets and accommodation we are asking for a temporary increase in the numbers of housing allocations that are made.
“We are asking to move that from 59 percent to 69 percent of our lets being for homeless households so we can clear that backlog.”
Members agreed to the recommendation but concerns were raised about youth homelessness.
SNP councillor Karen Conaghan said: “I am looking for some more data and understanding on the reasons why a young person found themselves in that situation.
“Do we have more overcrowding and that’s what’s driving them out of the house they are in? Is it to do with domestic violence or substance misuse within the home?
“I am aware there are a wide variety of reasons but I think it would be useful to unpick that. Where can young people turn for help?
Mr Barry added: “Although we have one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in the country, we are one of the best at responding to it.
“I want to reassure members that we are keeping on top of a very complex workload. We all share a collective desire to address that issue. Understanding that problem is key.”#
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie responded to the latest figures, calling for urgent action.
She said: “West Dunbartonshire Council is already forecasting a rise in people requiring assistance from homeless services following the lifting of the temporary eviction ban.
“There is a real risk that this is just the start of the tidal wave of homelessness that we have been warned about, with the worst yet to come.
“We cannot afford to waste any more time – the SNP must act urgently to support tenants and homeowners at risk of homelessness, and help councils provide the quality, permanent housing people need.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.