Homelessness need not be endemic, says Church of Scotland

By agency reporter
August 14, 2017

The Church of Scotland has issued a fresh call for collective action to end the “scandal of homelessness”.

The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council, said there was a “mountain to climb” but insisted the situation “need not be endemic”. He spoke out after a new report said homelessness in Scotland is predicted to rise by more than 53 per cent in the next 25 years.

New research by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh said the number of rough sleepers would double from 800 to 1,500 if current economic policies continue.

Academics also forecast the number of people in unsuitable temporary accommodation would rise by a third in the next decade.

The study was commissioned by the homelessness charity Crisis.

The report states there are currently 11,800 people across Scotland either sleeping rough, staying in hostels, living in unsuitable temporary accommodation, sofa-surfing, sleeping in cars or staying in squats or refuges.

The university research indicates this figure is expected to rise to 12,200 by 2021 before accelerating to 18,100 – a rise of 53 per cent on current levels - in 2041.

Dr Frazer said: "The findings of this report, tragically, come as no surprise.The evidence that the problem of homelessness is increasing is clear on our streets and in our communities.And it should shame and concern us all.

"In its early days one of the boldest decisions of the Scottish Parliament was to legislate to end homeless. Today’s figures not only suggest we are falling short of that goal, but that there is a mountain to climb."

Dr Frazer said society could not, in good conscience, continue to produce and implement economic policies that lead to such chronic suffering. "These figures should both challenge and spur us on; homelessness need not be endemic". he added.

He concluded "We need to rediscover the vision and boldness encapsulated in the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003, we need government at all levels and across all departments to work together to not only ensure that individuals have shelter but to create the context in which all might truly flourish. And we all need to play our part to end the scandal of homelessness.”

* Read the Crisis report here

* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/home

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