Plan to tackle homelessness in East Renfrewshire

Plans to tackle homelessness in East Renfrewshire could see the introduction of a rapid rehousing scheme.

The approach would aim to give people a settled home as quickly as possible, reducing the amount of time spent in temporary accommodation.

Four priorities have been identified in the plan, including an increased focus on early intervention and prevention work, a review of how support is provided and an assessment of temporary accommodation supply.

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It would also involve exploring the introduction of a pilot scheme to support people with complex needs.

Cabinet members on East Renfrewshire Council will be asked to approve the plan, for 2019 to 2024, at a meeting on May 2.

A report by the Council’s Director of Environment Andrew Cahill states: “Rapid rehousing is about taking a housing led approach for rehousing people that have experienced homelessness, making sure they reach a settled housing option as quickly as possible rather than staying in temporary accommodation for too long.

“The levels of rough sleeping and homelessness are low in East Renfrewshire in comparison to other authorities.

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“However there are a small number of households with complex needs such as mental health or drug and alcohol abuse, who have a significant history of repeat homelessness.

“The aim of the rapid rehousing transition plan in East Renfrewshire is to ensure resources are designed and managed to address issues that lead to repeat homelessness.

“Furthermore, the issues around households with complex needs and repeat homeliness have an impact on local communities through an increase in anti-social or criminal behaviour.”

In 2017/18, there were 328 homeless applications in East Renfrewshire, with the Council having a duty to find accommodation for 251.

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As of March 31, 126 cases were open. Of the 251, 180 were housed in the social sector and 10 in the private rented sector.

Household dispute is the most common reason cited in homeless applications at 33 per cent. Of these applicants, 50% cited violence or abuse.

The Scottish Government set up the Homelessness and Rough Sleepers Action Group in October 2017 to produce short and long term solutions to end homelessness and rough sleeping.

It recommends all local authorities adopt a rapid rehousing approach. The group found homeless households in many areas were not being provided offers of permanent housing in a suitable time period.

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The report to councillors says East Renfrewshire “does not face the same issues many other local authorities are facing nationally”.

More than 50 per cent of council homes are currently allocated to homeless applicants in the area.

However, the “low levels of council housing in the area means the Council is at times unable to meet the aspirations of some homeless households”.

The report states: “East Renfrewshire’s vision for 2024 is that early intervention and prevention work is successful in reducing the number of households who are forced to present as homeless, and that housing options advice is readily available for those who require it.”