A Freedom of Information request from Homeless Scotland has turned up a phenomenon of rough sleepers being pushed into doing Housing Options assessments by Glasgow City Council — meaning that those in greatest need are being asked to “bid” for a home and then wait up to seven months for help rather than being offered adequate immediate assistance.
Homeless Scotland explains:
I want you to picture the scene…
For months you have been rough sleeping/ sofa-surfing/ or staying in some form of unsuitable accommodation, and you finally pluck up the courage to present as homeless to Glasgow City Council.
Say, for example, you cannot face sleeping on the streets anymore, and you visit the casework team, hopeful that you’ll be offered accommodation — as you know the council have a legal duty to provide you with temporary accommodation while they assess your case, so you go there confident that they will fulfil their statutory duties.
Imagine you visited the council, and the caseworker tells you they will complete a Housing Options application form with you. They inform you that you need to “bid” for properties online, and that you will eventually be offered your own property.
Surely not! Surely my sources got confused — anyone in a homeless situation would be told that a full homeless application would be completed and they would be provided with accommodation in the meantime.
Unfortunately, it would appear that my sources are spot on…
The FoI request showed that, rather than being placed in temporary accommodation while having their case dealt with, of the 9,720 Housing Options applications carried out last year, the following were told to fill out Housing Options forms but not offered immediate assistance:
- 75 rough sleepers (“long term roofless”)
- 67 long-term sofa surfers
- 885 people who were homeless following a stint in prison
- 80 people released from hospital who were homeless
Meaning well over one in ten of the applications were being made by people who should have been treated as priority cases for immediate assistance, but weren’t.
Homeless Scotland continued:
On what planet is it acceptable for rough sleepers not to be given a full homeless application…I could not believe what I was reading today…
The average length of stay in temporary accommodation was given as 81 days, and includes all types of temporary accommodation (B&Bs, hostels, supported accommodation).
The average length of time someone waits before being offered their own mainstream accommodation using Housing Options is given as 194 days.
So if people are in temporary accommodation for an average of 81 days, and are waiting 194 for their own tenancy, where the hell are they going for the missing 113 days?
Seven months of waiting for people who should have been offered homeless accommodation there and then?
Housing Options is fine if you are staying somewhere safe and secure, and are in no rush for your own flat. If you can wait roughly 194 days, then there’s no issue.
But when a huge proportion of the people presenting to the council when they are homeless, and are getting fobbed off with a Housing Options application instead of a full homeless application, then there is something still seriously wrong with the system.
With all the people dying on the streets when sleeping rough making headlines in the press in Glasgow over the last few months, I’d love to know how many of these poor souls approached Glasgow City Council for help … and only completed a Housing Options application.
“Yes sir, you’ll be fine sleeping on the streets for the next 194 days, what’s the worst that could happen?”
In May this year, the newspapers told us that 39 homeless people died on the streets in the space of 10 months.
So let me summarise this, let me clarify the situation, just in case I’m not being clear here…
In Glasgow, 75 rough sleepers who presented as homeless to Glasgow City Council, completed an application for mainstream tenancies, instead of full homelessness applications, and were sent on their way…
The press told us in May that four people were dying every month on the streets.
So, on average, just over six rough sleepers presented for assistance to Glasgow City Council every month during the year from April 2016 to the end of March 2017, and were sent back to where they came from after completing a Housing Options application where the average waiting time for a tenancy is seven months.
Roughly four people rough sleeping are dying on the streets every month…
And six people who are rough sleeping present to the council as homeless every month are getting sent on their way by Glasgow City Council, after completing an application designed for folk who have time on their hands…
And yet Glasgow City Council responded to these deaths in the press by saying that it was the “lifestyle” of the rough sleepers that was to blame for all those deaths…
Perhaps if those 75 rough sleepers were given the type of service they were entitled to when presenting as homeless to Glasgow City Council, a large proportion of those deaths could have been prevented…
But that’s not much consolation for the friends, families and loved ones of the folk that died though, is it?
And yet still no one will be held to account!
Pic by duncan c