People experiencing and at risk of homelessness battle extremely difficult circumstances every day. Becoming homeless is often the result of complex issues. Each person’s journey is different and asks for our understanding, individual support and compassion.
Causes and consequence of homelessness
Relationship breakdown is one of the most common reasons given for becoming homeless. Experiences of trauma (including domestic abuse, growing up in care, bereavements), addiction and poor mental health may be daily struggles for those navigating extreme difficulties on their own. Some of these factors may have played a role in someone becoming homeless, but more often than not, it is the experience of homelessness that leads to addictions and poorer health – including severely impacting mental health and wellbeing.
Research shows that if you’re rough sleeping in Scotland:
- Your life expectancy is 47 years. If you’re a woman, this decreases to 43 years. (Average life expectancy in Scotland is 86.6 years).
- You are 13 times more likely to experience violence and 47 times more likely to be a victim of theft.
- You are 3 times more likely to die in a road traffic accident.
- You have a 50/50 chance of having a long-term mental illness and 9 times more likely to commit suicide.
We’re here to help
We know that people can and do recover from homelessness. Individual support, linking people into the services they need and, above all, human kindness can make a huge difference. Every day we are astounded by the resilience and tenacity of people to persevere and find their way to a more positive future, regaining their independence and sense of control.
Making complicated things easier
People struggling with homelessness in Scotland are entitled to a range of statutory support (see more below). However accessing services can be very challenging for people, especially as many of the processes are complicated and/or require a detailed understanding of systems and criteria.
We want to make it easy for people to have access to the services that need and are entitled to.
We work in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS services and a wide range of third sector organisations to make it as easy as possible for people to get a safe and suitable place to live. Access to benefits and employment are also factors that play a role in homelessness. We work with the DWP, Job Centres and other agencies to support people as they find a way to make things work for their own situation.
Snapshot: How things work in Scotland
These are some terms and principles that apply in Scotland:
- Being homeless is more than being without a roof over your head. It is when you don’t have a home, you have no right to stay where you are, or the place you are staying is unsafe or unsuitable. This could mean you are staying with friends or family, in a hostel, ‘sofa-surfing’, rough sleeping, living in overcrowded or poor conditions that affect your health, or living in a house that is not suitable for you because you are sick or disabled.
- Every local council has a legal duty to help anyone who is homeless, rough sleeping or at risk of becoming homeless within the next 56 days.
- To access this support, people need to make a homelessness application, which the council will review. This might also be referred to as ‘presenting as homeless’. In Edinburgh, this application is made through a Housing Officer at the City of Edinburgh Council.
- All applicants are entitled to temporary accommodation while they wait for an assessment and/or while waiting for settled accommodation to be found. Temporary accommodation can include hostels, council owned flats and/or B&Bs (paid for by the council).
- If someone is deemed (by the Council) as being ‘intentionally homeless’, they are entitled to less statutory support.
- Settled accommodation typically includes: supported accommodation, council flats/homes (also called tenancies).
- To access tenancies, people need to ‘bid’ online for properties. There are restrictions on size of property and areas in the city where people can ‘bid’.
For more on how we work to support people, visit ‘Our Approach and Story‘.