Mum-of-seven living in temporary accommodation fighting 'losing battle'

Zoe Ross says she was left with no option but to present as homeless after she and her ex-partner fell into rent arrears. 

A mum-of-seven who has spent more than three years in temporary homeless accommodation in Edinburgh says she feels like she’s fighting a “losing battle”. 

Zoe Ross had always rented privately, but a few years ago she was left with no option but to present as homeless after she and her ex-partner fell into rent arrears. 

She and her youngest five children were placed in a hotel for a week in March 2020, before being moved into a three-bedroom flat in the north of the city.

Three-and-a-half years on, Ms Ross says they are still in limbo. 

Like the 9,595 children in temporary homeless accommodation, she has to “bid” for suitable properties through the council on a weekly basis. 

“It’s a losing battle,” she told STV News. 

“The last few times I’ve been thirtieth, over 30 [in the queue], so there’s absolutely no chance. 

“It really needs someone to sit back, check the numbers, check the houses, and make it more appropriate – rather than one person in a two-bedroom [property]. 

“People are scattered everywhere, in accommodation which is too big for their needs, which is why I’m still sitting waiting, three and a half years down the line.”

Ms Ross says she would consider looking to rent privately again, but she believes it is “unaffordable”. 

And the uncertainty is having a knock-on effect on her wellbeing. 

Ms Ross added: “When I go out I’m fine, but when I know I have to come back here there’s a sense of dread.

“As soon as I’m in the house it’s just a horrible feeling, I’m not settled, I’m not happy here at all.” 

She said that she has one hope for the year ahead: “To have my own house, to be settled with the kids, for somewhere to finally call a home.

“I could make it a home for the kids, I could make it a safe place for them.” 

Ms Ross was speaking as new statistics released on Tuesday show homelessness in Scotland has surged higher than pre-pandemic levels.

In the statistics published by the Scottish Government, there were 39,006 applications for homelessness assistance between 2022 and 2023 – higher than pre-pandemic levels (37,053 in 2019-20).

The figures also show an increase of 3,247 (9%) when compared with 2021-22.

Ewan Aitken, CEO of Edinburgh homelessness charity Cyrenians, said: “We are in the grip of a housing emergency in Scotland.

“That something so fundamental, something most of us take for granted – a safe and secure home – is out of reach and remaining out of reach for so many is an unconscionable reality made clear in today’s figures.  

“As homelessness presentations continue to rise and the backlog in housing continues to build, we need to see urgent action from the Scottish Government and local authorities to end this crisis.

“That means substantial investment in social housing, land reform, and improving the supply of affordable homes which meet people’s basic needs. But housing alone isn’t enough – we need to address this as the public health crisis it is, and urgently invest in ways to tackle homelessness before it happens through early intervention, social support, community care, and ending poverty.”

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