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New resolutions seek to tackle homelessness in 2022

By Alan Beresford

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URGENT priorities for tackling homelessness have been outlined in a new report.

Platform for Change sets out priorities to tackle homelessness in Scotland during 2022. Picture: DGS
Platform for Change sets out priorities to tackle homelessness in Scotland during 2022. Picture: DGS

Leading homelessness charities, academics and people with personal experience of homelessness

have published Platform for Change 2022 which spotlights what they believe are the most important priorities for the coming year to mitigate the scale and experience of homelessness during the ongoing pandemic.

The Everyone Home collective wants to make faster gains on key fronts in 2022, by connecting knowledge, capacity and networks – drawn from across the third and academic sectors – with a public sector in Scotland facing unprecedented challenges.

While there is a public health emergency, the collective has stated that the pandemic and its aftermath will also create the conditions that create homelessness — job loss, rent arrears, poverty and the breakdown of personal relationships and living arrangements.

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, which facilitates the collective said: “Housing was our first line of defence against Covid-19 before vaccines and the other measures we have in place now.

"The pandemic brought into sharp focus how linked our home, health and wellbeing are and shone a brighter light on rough sleeping as the public health emergency it always was.

“We know the pandemic and its aftermath will create conditions that create homelessness — loss of employment or reduced hours, rent arrears, deeper poverty and the breakdown of personal relationships and living arrangements. To prevent this, we need to protect the progress that has been made and make faster gains on the big issues that drive homelessness.”

At the start of the pandemic, the collective set out three immediate priorities: more homes for good health; no return to rough sleeping; no evictions into homelessness. Since then, the collective has collaborated with the Scottish Government, local authorities and housing associations to implement shared priorities around this triple-lock of measures.

These measures also now underpin the collective’s approach for 2022 – setting out what matters

and why – along with the specific role that the Everyone Home collective will contribute.

Among these are an ‘Ask About Housing’ professional and public perceptions programme to support implementation of new duties to prevent homelessness and securing a strategic funding partnership to bring about an end to destitution among people with no recourse to public funds.

Many aspects of Scotland’s response to homelessness have increased in pace in response to the

pressure of the public health emergency since 2020. The challenge for organisations working in the sector has been to keep pace with rapid change and safeguard what has been achieved.

The collective has identified the key fronts where faster gains are needed in 2022, including reducing poverty which it describes as "the key driver of homelessness, in all its forms".

Ms Brünjes added: “The emergency legislation introduced in the Scottish Parliament early in the pandemic played a vital role in protecting people’s homes – and may in part have contributed to the reduction in homelessness reported during the first year of lockdown.

"We need to build from this with an end to evictions into homelessness, the prevention of avoidable evictions along with greater focus on reducing poverty and better joined up working across all sectors and services.”

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