Council sees rise in homeless applications amid 'significant' pressures

A total of 935 applications were recorded in 2022/23, compared against 909 in 2021/22.

Council sees rise in homeless applications amid ‘significant’ pressures in Renfrewshire iStock

A rise in homeless applications in Renfrewshire has been labelled a “serious situation” after it was revealed there is “little resilience” left in the system.

Emerging housing pressures – stemming from issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis – have caused an increase in recent years.

A total of 935 applications were recorded in 2022/23, compared against 909 in 2021/22 and 834 in 2020/21, a report to Tuesday’s communities and housing policy board disclosed.

The figure stood at 752 for 2023/24 at December 31, with a previous paper in October saying there were signs of a “further increase” on previous years.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Councillor Kenny MacLaren, a member of the board, said: “It is a serious situation. Everything is happening at the one time.”

Asylum decisions have been accelerated by the UK Government as it tries to clear a backlog, meaning there are people, who were staying in hotel accommodation, presenting as homeless after receiving a positive decision.

Elected members have also said they are being contacted by residents who are losing their homes because private landlords are deciding to sell up.

The council’s latest report, entitled ‘Homelessness in Renfrewshire’, said: “Local authorities across Scotland are experiencing significant pressures in meeting demand for social housing and there is now clear evidence nationally of rising homeless presentations, record numbers in temporary accommodation and increasing waiting times for those in need of a home.

“Whilst Renfrewshire is experiencing increasing homelessness and local housing pressures, it is not currently at risk of ‘systemic failure’ as some other local authorities are.

“However, if homeless presentations continue to rise in the coming months, there is little resilience left across the system and it is anticipated Renfrewshire will struggle to continue to provide both temporary and settled accommodation in line with our statutory duty.”

Elsewhere, Glasgow City Council declared a housing emergency at the end of November, following the City of Edinburgh Council, which declared one earlier that month, and Argyll and Bute Council, which did so in June.

“I think that’s on the cards in Renfrewshire,” Councillor MacLaren, an SNP representative for Paisley Northwest, added.

“The council’s been left to pick up the pieces of the failure of the UK economy, the failure of the private housing sector and the mismanagement of asylum seekers by the UK Government.”

The view that a housing crisis could be on the horizon in Renfrewshire has also been shared by Councillor Iain McMillan, leader of the Labour group.

“I don’t want to scaremonger and I know the staff in Renfrewshire do an excellent job but we’re talking about a tidal wave of homelessness,” the Johnstone South and Elderslie representative said.

“People are struggling to pay their mortgages, people are getting put out of their houses by private landlords, private landlords have had enough, their own mortgages on properties have gone up so a lot of private landlords are just saying, ‘Game’s a bogey, I can lift my money and put it elsewhere’.

“Where do these people go? They go to the councils and other social landlords and try to get a house.”

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