Almost 500 new homes for rough sleepers in Scotland

Embargoed to 0001 Monday November 6 File photo dated 07/02/2017 of a homeless person sleeping rough in a doorway. An urgent plan is needed to help rough sleepers and the homeless access healthcare in time for winter, a nurses' leader is urging.

A ‘Sleep in the Park’ fundraising event by ‘Social Bite’ in Princes  Street Gardens Edinburgh is helping to make this possible

The Gardens are almost ready for the fantastic Sleep In The Park event the tomorrow.

Almost 500 new homes are being made available for rough sleepers in Scotland’s central belt as part of efforts to address “unprecedented pressures” on services.

The properties, predicted to number around 475, will be available in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the other parts of the region.

It comes as a “mass sleep-out” is set to take place in the capital on Saturday, organised by Social Bite, to help support homeless housing.

Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “What’s happening here is a real game changer and will allow us to collectively and collaboratively restructure the system.

“The Housing First model is statistically proven to be the single most effective homelessness intervention that we can do.

“It means that rather than making vulnerable homeless people live in the homelessness system, sleeping in hostels, the streets and B&Bs, we offer them a proper place to call home, and provide a wrap-around and well-resourced support package for them to make sure they sustain that tenancy.”

Liam Gallagher, John Cleese and Rob Brydon are among those performing at the Sleep in the Park event to help raise funds towards supporting homeless accommodation.

More than £2.9 million has already been raised by the sleep-out taking place in Princes Street Gardens, with more than 8,000 people signed up to take part.

Social Bite is also currently developing a “village” in Edinburgh to give homes to rough sleepers.

A prototype house that will be used in the new village for homeless people in Edinburgh (Social Bite)

A number of key figures have committed to joining the sleepout, including Sir Bob Geldof and Communities Secretary Angela Constance.

Ms Constance said: “Along with ministerial colleagues I am delighted to be able to take part and support Social Bite’s sleep out.

“The Scottish Government is committed to eradicating rough sleeping which is why we established our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which Social Bite takes part in.

“We are already implementing their first recommendations to tackle rough sleeping this winter and that work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.

“The development of the Housing First model is already being delivered in areas of Scotland and has shown great results so far.

“It is a good example of an innovative scheme to support people who have experienced homelessness.”

Around 275 permanent housing association and council properties are to be provided to homeless people in Edinburgh through the EdIndex Partnership.

Homeless people living in Edinburgh to be allocated 275 extra homes.

— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) December 8, 2017

Wheatley Group, Scotland’s largest housing and care group, has also committed to up to 200 homes for rough sleepers in Glasgow and the central belt.

Reducing homelessness is a “key priority” for social landlords across the capital and these additional properties are “clear evidence” of continued support, Edinburgh City Council said.

Edinburgh City Council leader, Adam McVey, said: “Last month, we announced the creation of a cross-party homelessness task force to address the unprecedented pressures facing our services.

“Today’s announcement of an additional 275 permanent homes is a valuable addition to the work already being done with our partners across the city offering an extensive range of services to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless – from support and advice on housing options, to assessment services and permanent and temporary accommodation.”