EMERGENCY accommodation costs faced by the council to house the homeless have more than doubled in a year to £2.7 million, new figures reveal.
Campaigners today blamed a shortage in affordable housing amid calls for a taskforce to address homelessness.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “At the heart of the problem is Scotland’s housing crisis and the need for step change in the supply of new affordable homes.”
Mr Brown called for at least 12,000 affordable homes to be built nationally every year – and a common standard in the quality of temporary accommodation.
“The provision of emergency accommodation and homelessness services go hand in hand and together provide a vital safety net that helps people in crisis,” he added.
“The high cost of some temporary accommodation is a concern especially as it can be a barrier to people finding work with enough income to meet their housing costs.”
Figures released by the council under Freedom of Information laws reveal emergency accommodation costs for 2015-16 of £6,583,522 – with £3,844,306 covered by central government grants.
That left the city with a bill of £2,739,216 – up from £1,068,904 the previous year and a near 19-fold increase in five years from £146,174 in 2010-11.
On a typical day in October, there were 474 households in emergency accommodation, according to the data.
In July, the Evening News revealed that a council report warned of a rise in the number of people sleeping rough in Edinburgh.
It found a total of 1976 people had slept on the Capital’s streets during a two-year period and said spending cuts meant vulnerable people would not get the help they needed.
Tory group leader Cameron Rose called for a taskforce into the “complex” issue, with Edinburgh “sometimes being a magnet for homeless people.”
He said alternative measures to “throwing money” at the problem needed to be investigated, such as working with charities.
Cllr Rose said: “These are startling figures – and they’ve been growing continually for the last five years. This needs urgently addressing to find other ways of dealing with emergency accommodation. The city cannot afford these costs to spiral out of control.”
City housing leader Cllr Joan Griffiths said the authority’s helps more than 7500 people to find new homes every year.
“Anyone can face periods of homelessness,” she added. “For many people, there’s no single event that results in sudden homelessness and it can be due to a number of unresolved problems building up over time.
“Edinburgh is a growing city and protecting vulnerable people will continue to be our key priority and we are committed to reducing homelessness.”