West Lothian hails success of rapid rehousing plan
The number of homeless families being placed in hotels and bed and breakfasts in West Lothian has fallen by over 80%.
From March 2019 until March 2020, the use of such accommodation dropped from 77 to 13 in March 2020 for families with children.
At the same time, there was a 3.4% decline in the number of homelessness presentations from families with children between March 2019 and March 2020 while there were 1,426 homelessness applications received in 2020/21 (up to March 1) with less than a quarter of those applications with children in the household.
In 2019, West Lothian Council launched its local Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) to increase access to all social rented housing and reduce the reliance on council properties and temporary B&B accommodation.
Where applicants have no housing alternatives, the council has a legal responsibility to provide temporary accommodation which includes a temporary house or flat or, when there is no other option, B&B or hotel accommodation can be used.
Homelessness applications have decreased over recent years. The numbers of families in temporary accommodation has been steadily declining from 2019/20, The West Lothian Courier reports.
Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: “There are early signs that the RRTP, and other measures is beginning to improve the situation locally, when it comes to demand for housing and reducing homelessness, but this is about gradual improvement and we’re certainly not getting carried away with the progress to date.
“Make no mistake, there is a lot of work still to do. Clearly, the complex issue of social housing isn’t just a council issue, governments, RSLs and private landlords all have a huge part to play.
“In West Lothian, one of the key aims is to improve access to affordable housing options and reduce the length of stay in temporary accommodation.
“The council will aim to focus on early intervention and prevention. The use of RSLs is key to the success of the RRTP and one of the key factors will be moving more homeless people into RSL properties in future.”
AnnMarie Carr, head of housing, customer and building services, added: “Homelessness is often associated with people sleeping rough on the streets but in West Lothian that type of occurrence is extremely uncommon.
“In reality, homelessness means having to sleep on a friend’s or relative’s sofa, a stay in B&B accommodation or live in temporary accommodation.
“None of these options are good for the individuals or families concerned. None of these short term arrangements provide a long term solution for homeless people.
“However, homelessness itself is an extremely complex area. That’s why so much of our efforts are centred around working with alternative housing providers to increase the options available to people in need.”