Charities have called on the Scottish Government to institute a “triple lock” to help tackle rough sleeping.
A total of 19 organisations – including Cyrenians, Turning Point Scotland, Shelter Scotland and Social Bite – have formed a collective called Everyone Home and will deliver a plan to the Scottish Government on Thursday.
Homeless Network chairman Paul McKay said progress has been made to house those sleeping rough since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and this should be harnessed when it subsides.
The group suggested three approaches to help eliminate homelessness – ceasing evictions when the tenant has nowhere else to go, prioritising prevention work and working to prevent a return to pre-pandemic levels of rough sleeping.
Mr McKay said: “The majority of people and organisations in Scotland that care about homelessness agree that the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Plan is the right approach and we were making progress.
“However, the onset of this pandemic demanded a rapid response to keep people safe.
“Since March, we have managed to accommodate and support all those who wanted to be indoors, including people with no recourse to public funds such as people seeking asylum in Scotland.”
He added: “Throughout, local and national government, charities, health and housing associations have worked together.
“It is now imperative to secure that progress. The pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on people who experience all types of disadvantage, potentially driving up homelessness.
“By implementing the measures outlined in this plan, Scotland has a unique window to end rough sleeping and mitigate the impact of all forms of homelessness.”
Alison Watson, the deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the pandemic has “exposed the deep divisions” in the country.
“The remarkable effort to move people off the streets and to protect tenants facing eviction shows what can be done when the will is there,” she said.
“But these are temporary measures and there is a real risk that more people will be swept into homelessness in the months ahead.
“There can be no return to the failed housing system of the past, no more sticking plaster solutions.
“We need bold action that ensures we have the homes we need, that people’s housing rights are enforced and that individuals have the support they need for a safe future.”
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government created a new regulation to ensure homeless people are housed in high quality accommodation.
It ensures people will only be housed in a bed and breakfast for up to one week before being able to move to a more settled home.
In February, National Records of Scotland statistics showed 195 homeless people died in temporary accommodation or on the street in 2018, an increase of 19% from the previous year.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Thanks to a rapid and co-ordinated response, hundreds of people previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable B&Bs or night shelters are now being supported in hotels or other self-contained accommodation. Outreach services are reporting that there are no more than 30 people sleeping rough across Scotland.
“This will continue in Scotland, however settled accommodation with the correct support measures continues to be the best way of solving homelessness in the longer term.”
He highlighted coronavirus legislation to protect tenants against eviction for up to six months, adding: “The pandemic has shown what we can do if we work together to address social issues. It has been challenging and will remain so but we are determined to ensure everyone has a secure and settled home once the crisis ends.”
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