Could Scotland end homelessness?

A Scandinavian scheme, ‘Housing First’, is already being piloted in parts of Scotland. What is distinctive about this scheme is that it prioritises getting people off the streets first and into a stable home environment before tackling the problems such as drug addiction which may have been the initial cause of their homelessness. See this, on a Finnish scheme, reported in the Guardian in 2016:

‘The housing first model is quite simple: when people are homeless, you give them housing first – a stable home, rather than progressing them through several levels of temporary and transitional accommodation. The idea stems from the belief that people who are homeless need a home, and other issues that may cause them to be at risk of homelessness can be addressed once they are in stable housing. Homeless people aren’t told they must conquer their addictions or secure a job before being given a home: instead it is accepted that having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier.’

Homelessness in Finland is in steep decline, the scheme is considered a great success there and has been copied in Sweden. Knowing what we know about the UK government, I’m sure none will be surprised that the only reason given for not adopting such a scheme in a UK Parliament report was this:

‘We are cautious about investing further in housing first in England because of the severity of England’s homelessness challenge and the scarcity of funding and of social housing.’

The building of affordable housing is proceeding at twice the rate of the UK, in Scotland, so perhaps that may be less of a barrier here.

Scottish Government increases supply of affordable housing and builds at more, perhaps much more, than twice the rate as in England

More important, the Scottish government clearly holds to more communitarian or humanitarian values and the First Minister has now said she would like to see the scheme expanded. Reported in the Sunday Post, she said:

‘The housing first model is already being used in certain parts of Scotland with quite significant success, and it is an approach that I am very interested to see extended by us and local authorities. I agree with the underpinning principles of the housing first model, because the approach is about responding very quickly to initial need but also looking at how a package of support can be put around somebody who is homeless and needs accommodation.’

I think I can add this to the list of reasons why Scotland is different enough to be running the show itself:

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

58 000 baby boxes to help increase life chances and now Scotland will be the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products to ‘end period poverty’. This is the kind of country I want to live in.

Scots the least respectful of the upper classes: More evidence of a difference that makes a difference?

Scientific evidence that Scots tend to be different from the other groups in rUK?

Racial hate crimes increase by 33% in England & Wales while falling by 10% in Scotland: Who says we’re not different?

‘Scottish tooth fairies are the most generous.’ See, even more evidence we are different.

Who said Scots were not more left-wing than those in the rest of the UK?


7 thoughts on “Could Scotland end homelessness?

  1. Alasdair Macdonald November 20, 2017 / 4:48 pm

    In the first Scottish Parliament, Wendy Alexander instituted ‘the rough sleepers’ arrangements, which she hoped would end this in Scotland. It had some success. It is possible to view that as an early attempt at getting to what Housing First is trying to do. I mention this because it is an example of something which Labour in Scotland could respond to constructively and collaboratively, along with SNP credentials, this would be a good example.

    Action like this is only a facet of the wider issue of land reform. We have to begin to tax punitively land which is being ‘banked’ by developers, to create a shortage and thereby push up the price of houses. This rigging of the market has to stop. If all this stalled land comes on the market, as it will once the speculators see their profits squeezed, then the price of land will fall and so, become a smaller proportion of the cost of housebuilding. So, house prices will become cheaper and it will be more feasible for people to self build. Organisations like Glasgow’s City Building and the WISE Group, for example, have good designs for ecologically friendly and energy efficient houses. Not only will homeless people have increased opportunities to be housed, but the often crippling cost of energy will be abated.

    I fear, sadly, that Mr Leonard will be as tribal as all previous Labour leaders. His spin doctors, for example, are trying to associate him, because of his TU connections, with the rescue package for BIFab. Let us hope that those who voted for him, the new members, the Young exercise their power and kick his arse every time he does the knee jerk oppositionist. He will not have it easy because the baleful and snarling, soor faced crew SarwarBaillieGrayMcNeillLamontKellyMarra form the majority of his MSPs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alasdair Macdonald November 20, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    F*****g predictive text! The first paragraph, final sentence should end :’ …. along with SNP and Greens.’ The rest of the sentence is just down to my poor editing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. macgilleleabhar November 20, 2017 / 4:54 pm

    I can see the sound logic of “Housing First” . Set the safety net high to catch people before they plunge into the abyss.
    Eradicating homelessness could I believe be almost self financing if it results in people having an improved quality of life and hope of a better lifestyle leading to them becoming active contributers to society.
    This would be dependent on a more equal society with high levels of economic activity at every level.If opportunity exists people will take it.
    The UK government comments reinforced my belief that they see the state as belonging to the Establishment rather than to the people as in Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ludo Thierry November 20, 2017 / 6:57 pm

    Hi all – agree with the comments posted already – If this Scandi inspired Housing First model can help then everybody gains big time. If it works out as in Finland then our Health and Emergency Services will benefit majorly in the first instance (along with the troubled individuals being decently housed) – and that is good for all of us.

    Still on Housing issues – but from a slightly different take – noticed this report on the Scottish legal news site (See below):

    Properties in Edinburgh and Glasgow sell faster than in cities elsewhere in the UK, according to a new report.
    The average UK property takes 96 days to sell, according to the latest City Rate of Sale report from Post Office Money, compared to 41 and 50 days in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively.
    The report, developed with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), examines the average time a property takes to sell in more than 20 major cities across the UK.

    November 17, 2017

    Ta, ludo

    Liked by 1 person

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