Council to help ex-forces personnel find a home

People leaving the armed forces could be given a boost in their bid to find a new home by the City of Edinburgh Council.

Many ex-service personnel find it difficult to get Council or registered social landlord housing once they leave as they have been living abroad or in service accommodation.

However Councillors have now agreed for consultation to take place so the length of time people have served could be given the same importance as the amount of time others have spent on Edinburgh's common housing register (EdIndex).

It means that ex-service personnel who have served for five years will get the same consideration as someone who has been on the register for a council or housing association home for five years.  

The new proposals would apply to people who register on EdIndex within three years of leaving the armed forces.

The Provision of Affordable Housing for Ex-Service Personnel report also calls for extending the current housing options advice service to include ex-service personnel and to work with armed forces charities and housing associations to identify plots of land for housing development in the future.

The decision coincides with the Capital hosting the national Armed Forces Day celebrations next month (24 - 26 June) which is expected to see up to 80,000 people flock to the city.

The three-day celebration will see aerial displays by the Red Arrows, a parade of up to 2,000 veterans and military personnel on the Royal Mile, concerts, exhibitions, and a spectacular Massed Pipes and Drums Parade.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city's Housing Leader, said: "I think it is only right that we explore all available options to see how we can help people who have left the armed forces and are struggling to find a roof over their heads.

"Many of them have spent time overseas serving their country and putting their lives at risk to defend our values and society. Anything that we can do to help them on the housing ladder should be considered."

It is expected that the take up will be limited and any impact will be monitored to ensure there is no adverse impact to others in housing need.

Latest figures show that in 2009/10, there were 105 people in Edinburgh who had served in the armed forces that were categorised as homeless. Of these 70% had left the armed forces more than five years previously.

Between 2009 and 2010 there were 1,730 homeless presentations in Scotland from households where one member had been in the armed forces. Of these 517 had been in the armed forces less than five years ago and 1,2133 had been in the forces more than 5 years ago.

Edinburgh has a considerable affordable housing need with around 16,600 new homes needed over 10 years. There is an average of 138 bids for each Council and housing association home advertised on the Key to Choice website.

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