Scotland’s housing crisis

Shelter Scotland is seeing more reports of rough sleepers dying in streets
Shelter Scotland is seeing more reports of rough sleepers dying in streets

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland has released new figures showing the scale and impact of Scotland’s housing crisis.

The Impact Report shows that from April 2016 to March 2017 the charity helped more than 21,000 people or individuals via its free national helpline, digital chat service and one-to-one advice sessions. There were also more than 825,000 unique visits to its online Get Advice pages in Scotland.

Around 46 per cent of people needing help were private renters which the charity says is disproportionate to the size of the private rented sector which provides only 14 per cent of homes in Scotland.

Of all people helped, 46 per cent were between 16 and 34 years old, which indicates that a higher proportion of younger people are bearing the brunt of Scotland’s housing crisis.

The main reason people gave for needing help (44 per cent) was ‘keeping their home’ i.e. struggling to afford their housing costs or facing eviction. Another 29 per cent of people who came to Shelter Scotland last year wanted help to ‘find a home’ – including advice and assistance with homelessness.

More than 1000 people came for help who were already homeless.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Last year we were busier than ever helping people with bad housing and homelessness.

“This report shows the disproportionate impact of Scotland’s housing crisis on young people and private renters who are both over-represented in the number of people we helped.

“The terrible shortage of truly affordable homes, harsh welfare reforms, stagnant wages and the high cost of keeping a roof over their head are the main reasons driving people to ask for help.

“Struggling to afford or pay housing costs is the biggest presenting problem people have when coming to us for help.”

“The statistics speak for themselves – on average, a household in Scotland becomes homeless every 19 minutes. We are seeing more reports of rough sleepers dying on our city streets. Behind those statistics are families, individuals, people on low incomes, people with complex needs – some of the most vulnerable people on our society.”

Alison added: “Until there’s a decent, safe and secure home for everyone, we’ll be here to do whatever we can to help everyone in Scotland facing bad housing and homelessness.”