Plans to tackle homelessness in Midlothian approved
Midlothian Council has approved its Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan to help end rough sleeping in the region.
The Rapid Rehousing approach for homeless households was among the recommendations made by the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) for ending rough sleeping and transforming the use of temporary accommodation.
The HARSAG recognised that in some areas the transition would be challenging due to a lack of affordable housing so recommended a five-year timescale for the transformation to rapid rehousing.
In Midlothian there are currently 1,079 homeless households. In 2017/18 a total of 248 homeless households were provided with permanent housing by the council or another registered social landlord. There is a significant shortage in the supply of affordable housing in Midlothian and the result is a significant length of time for many households in temporary accommodation.
The five-year Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan identifies actions to substantially increase the speed at which homeless households will be provided with permanent housing. This plan has to demonstrate not only how homelessness demand will be addressed, but also how any backlog of demand from homeless households currently in temporary accommodation will be addressed.
Key actions of the plan include:
- Increasing the supply of new build affordable housing in Midlothian
- Reviewing Midlothian Council’s Allocation Policy to ensure homeless households are housed more quickly
- Reducing the need for bed and breakfast accommodation
- Supporting homeless households to access a tenancy in the private rented sector
- Developing a ‘housing first’ approach – a method of helping people who are homeless and who have complex needs, to secure accommodation using housing as a starting point rather than an end goal
Cllr Stephen Curran, the cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “We are already undertaking a range of activities to support the development of rapid rehousing. This includes the ambitious new-build programme set out in the Strategic Housing Investment Plan 2019/20–2023/24 and plans to use the upper floors of Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, as an alternative to bed and breakfast accommodation. However our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan also details actions that could be taken forward to increase the pace of transition if additional funding was provided by the Scottish Government.”
Midlothian’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan will now be submitted to the Scottish Government with a view to being implemented from April 2019.