Edinburgh set to declare housing emergency amid homelessness crisis

Figures show approximately 5,000 households in the capital are in temporary accommodation - the highest number in Scotland.

Edinburgh Council to declare housing emergency due to homelessness crisis Edwin Remsberg via Getty Images

Edinburgh is set to declare a housing emergency with a record high number of homeless families.

The city council’s housing convener Jane Meagher is set to table a motion on Thursday in an effort to set up an emergency action plan and seek urgent funding from the Scottish Government to help meet “severe challenges”.

The motion is set to highlight the city’s record homelessness figures along with a severe shortage of social rented homes and spiralling private rental costs.

Figures show approximately 5,000 households in the capital are in temporary accommodation – the highest number in Scotland.

There is a “severe shortage” of social rented homes, with around 200 bids for each advertised property and additional demand for accessible and family homes.

Edinburgh also has the highest rental inflation rate in the UK at 13.7%.

The city would be in Scotland to officially announce a housing emergency if the motion is passed.

In June, Argyll and Bute Council declared a housing emergency citing a rise in homelessness post-pandemic and an increasing lack of choice.

If councillors agree to the motion, they will write to the First Minister and to housing minister Paul McLennan, asking for additional funding.

It comes as Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner published a report that warns housing children who are seeking asylum or are homeless in hotels can be dangerous and “exacerbate trauma”.

Scottish housing minister McLennan said Scotland had the strongest rights in the UK for people experiencing homelessness.

But he said that temporary accommodation should be temporary.

“We have committed to act on the recommendations of the expert Temporary Accommodation Task and Finish Group, including investing at least £60m for councils and social landlords to acquire properties for use as affordable homes,” he said.

“The UK asylum system is failing those fleeing war and persecution, with people left in limbo because the UK Government’s mismanagement has left a backlog of over 175,000 people waiting for a decision on their cases. Inhumane asylum policies also restrict people’s rights and access to support while they wait for a decision.

“This has put acute pressure on housing and social work services supporting asylum seeking children, meaning hotels have been used by some local authorities on a temporary basis to accommodate young people aged over 16 while a suitable placement is found.”

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