"Housing First" Scheme to Tackle Homelessness in Scotland

A Finnish policy that has led to a dramatic decrease in homelessness may be implemented in Scotland to eradicate rough sleeping.

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MSPs are backing “Housing First”, a scheme being piloted in areas across Scotland which has been used effectively in Finland to eradicate homelessness.

It is estimated that around 700-800 people are sleeping rough in Scotland, however, through this policy Finland has shown a dramatic decrease in homelessness. It is being described as the only country in Europe where homelessness has declined.

Through this policy, Finland has seen improvements to individuals’ health and wellbeing and in tenancy retention.

The “Housing First” plan will prioritise the right to a permanent home without the need for additional support or temporary accommodation first and is being backed by Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee.

It is thought that by giving homeless individuals a permanent home they will be able to access healthcare, social care and community support more easily. There has been evidence to suggest that this type of scheme would be the most suitable to support people with complex needs such as drug and alcohol addictions, mental health issues or offending behaviour.

Charities such as Turning Point explain that the scheme will be even more beneficial as people do not need to prove that they are dealing with their addictions first before they are allowed a place to stay, meaning that they are spending less time on the streets.

The Committee has recommended the roll-out of “Housing First” across Scotland in a report published after an inquiry into the causes of homelessness and long-term solutions to end homelessness in Scotland.

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