Comment: Homeless numbers do not tell full story

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The drop in the number of people registered as homeless in Edinburgh is welcome news today.

But we should not become complacent to a very real and often hidden problem.

While the numbers on the face of it certainly look like the city council is getting on top of the problem, they do not tell the full story.

As anyone who has walked through the city centre at night will know, there is evidence of homelessness and rough sleeping all around.

The various agencies will never get through to every case, but that does not mean we can simply ignore the issue.

Those who came forward to declare themselves homeless – while on the decrease – still totalled more than 4200 in the last year.

That represents a big problem for the city to deal with, to ensure each case is given the best possible help to get them back on their feet.

Edinburgh’s twin problem of spiralling rents and a lack of social housing mean there are no easy solutions.

The sort of partnership working which has led to today’s drop in applications is the right approach to develop as we go forward.

The various agencies can look at today’s figures and breathe a sigh of relief that a downward trend is now appearing. But there is certainly no time to rest on their 

Homelessness is not an issue which will simply disappear as the economy improves, and we should all remember today’s figures represent only the tip of the iceberg.

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