Councils facing 'impossible' task of finding accommodation for homeless refugees

Council officials have told MSPs it is 'almost impossible' to find accommodation for homeless refugees.

Council officials have told MSPs it is “almost impossible” to find accommodation for homeless refugees following positive asylum decisions.

They told Holyrood’s Justice Committee the strains on the homelessness and temporary accommodation system on Thursday.

They all said the housing system is already under pressure due to a lack of supply.

The Home Office initiative to streamline asylum processes means there have been more people approaching local authorities for homeless services, as accommodation provided by the UK Border Agency comes to an end when someone is granted leave to remain.

Glasgow City Council has a backlog of over 600 cases which has been described as an “almost impossible challenge”.

SNP MSP Bob Doris said he has heard around 600 households are being “pushed into the homelessness system” in Glasgow due to their tenancy with accommodation provider Mears coming to an end.

Jim McBride, head of homelessness at Glasgow City Council, said there are now more than 600 cases and the council is dealing with 10 a day.

He told the committee: “It’s presenting serious difficulty for us to manage alternative accommodation options.

“We’ve identified the fact it’s going to be an almost impossible challenge for us to manage.

“Just now we are trying to accommodate 10 on a daily basis, but we’re also now finding our ability to even identify hotel accommodation within the city is extremely pressed.”

The council is now looking at vacant buildings to provide accommodation, he said, including an empty nursing home.

Officials from Edinburgh and Fife councils said their local authorities are facing similar issues.

Gordon MacRae, assistant director of Shelter Scotland, warned the problem of homelessness is “getting worse”.

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