Edinburgh is ‘winning the homeless war’

Applications have dropped in the past year. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Applications have dropped in the past year. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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HOMELESSNESS applications in the Capital have dropped by three per cent since last year, new figures have revealed.

The Scottish Government data also shows the number of Edinburgh residents presenting as rough sleepers is now the lowest of any Scottish city.

Council leaders said the trend was evidence their anti-homelessness strategy is working – despite concern over budget cuts after the News revealed welfare group Streetwork had closed the night service at its Holyrood Road crisis centre. Streetwork leaders decided to axe the service after the city council cut its grant by £200,000.

According to the latest Scottish Government figures, homelessness applications in Edinburgh have dropped to 3980 in 2014-15 from 4103 over the previous 12 months.

The city council also reported over 10 per cent of applicants as sleeping rough in 2013-14, but that figure has fallen to under three per cent.

Councillor Cammy Day, housing leader, said: “These statistics are extremely encouraging and a tremendous achievement, not just for the council but for our partners in the third sector who work tirelessly to support homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless.

“While there is still much to be done, it is clear that Edinburgh’s homelessness strategy is helping us to move in the right direction and delivering real results.

“All of this has been achieved despite a challenging economic climate and significant budget pressures.”

Stressing that the city council had invested more than £25 million in third sector and in-house prevention services, he added: “Protecting vulnerable people will continue to be our key priority and we are committed to reducing homelessness further across Edinburgh.”

Homelessness support leaders welcomed the figures but warned against complacency.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The homelessness and housing options statistics released earlier this week together give a truer picture of housing need in Edinburgh. They showed that last year, there were at least 7990 approaches made to the Council from households in danger of losing their home.”

Iain Gordon, chief executive of Bethany Christian Trust, said: “It is encouraging to see indications that the number of people presenting as homeless in the city is reducing.

“A great deal of work has been done by third sector organisations and the Council in recent years to address some of the root causes of homelessness as well as the distress that homelessness brings to the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable people.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com