Julian Maddern moved to Edinburgh from Bristol to look after his 18-month-old daughter. He was made homeless after his landlady decided to sell her flat and he turned up at the door of the council to be told he’d have to go into a hostel.
Despite waving letters from his doctor, social worker and health visitor saying his daughter’s lung condition made that sort of accommodation wholly inappropriate, that’s where they were sent. It’s where they’d stay by Julian’s recollection for the next two months.
It is one of a number of hostels and hotels the council contracts to provide “temporary” accommodation for people presenting as homeless.
Our taxpayers’ money pays the going rate in establishments like these, regardless of whether they are full or empty. Right now they’re jam packed as the city’s housing crisis continues to worsen.
The conditions were shocking according to Julian. Dirty bed bug-ridden rooms. Kitchen facilities constituted one dodgy microwave between 60 rooms, no hot water for ten days. He couldn’t leave his daughter in the room so had to regularly carry her back and forth to the kitchen past fellow residents who were clearly intoxicated. There was violence and an edge to the place which meant it was no place for a child to be for an afternoon, let alone to call home.
That was a year ago and the council insists conditions have improved a little since, but just last week we had more first-hand horror stories from people seeking refuge.
This is about more than how much we spend on homelessness services, it is about the quality of it and we’ve let the private companies who run these hostels away with murder for far too long.