Figures for Edinburgh homelessness set to fall

Homelessness in Edinburgh is on track to fall further this year despite the impact of the worsening economic conditions.

Latest figures to the end of December 2009 show homelessness is set to fall by a further 5% this year. This will lead to an overall reduction of 16% over the past four years.

The number of homelessness assessments carried out between April to December 2009 is 3,478, which gives a projected figure of 4,637 for the rest of the year - this compares with 5,495 in 2006/07.

The key objectives of the Edinburgh Homelessness Strategy are to:

  • help households prevent homelessness
  • provide better support to people starting out in new accommodation
  • tackle rough sleeping
  • increasing the availability of private rented accommodation for homeless people

One of the innovative projects funded by the Council is the Cyrenians Homelessness Prevention Service - the first time the Council has had such a service. It aims to stop people becoming homeless by helping them maintain the home they are in.

This can be through a variety of measures which include help with debt issues, problems with landlords/mortgage providers and helping people with health issues or if they are feeling lonely or isolated. During the first six months since they started operating in April 2009 the service has provided support to 185 people and none of those have gone on to report becoming homeless. 

Councillor Paul Edie, Housing Leader for the City of Edinburgh Council, said the latest figures showed the services put in place by the council to tackle homelessness in the Capital were working. He said: "To see homelessness on track to fall for the fourth year running shows our strategy is paying dividends and helping those who need it most.

"An example of this is the dedicated support provided by the Edinburgh Cyrenians who, along with our other partners, have helped many people who are in danger of falling into homelessness.  Avoiding homelessness means they can avoid a whole range of associated problems such as rough sleeping, health issues and increased financial difficulties.

"We have a long way to go before homelessness can be eradicated but this Council will do everything in its power to ensure those who most need our help and support receive it."

Des Ryan, Director of Edinburgh Cyrenians, said: "In these financially uncertain times, more and more people who did not think homelessness could affect them are finding it harder to make ends meet.

"This could be for any number of reasons, such as relationship breakdowns or money problems or general isolation. People may feel stigmatised by the 'homeless' label but it can happen to anyone, regardless of their background or situation.

"That's why the work we have been carrying out with the City of Edinburgh Council is so important to help people in need and ensure they don't end up losing their home."

The number of homelessness assessments carried out during 2006/07 was 5,495; 2007/08 was 5,135; 2008/09 was 4,863 and for Apr to Dec 09 was 3,478 which gives a projected figure of 4,637 to the end of March 2010.

The Edinburgh Cyrenians' Homelessness Prevention service - funded by City of Edinburgh Council - is free to everyone regardless of income or employment status, including owner occupiers, tenants and those with other housing arrangements. There is also a mediation service for landlords and tenants to talk through issues which might cause someone to be evicted.

Through the Homelessness Prevention Service, trained Personal Advisers are able to meet people either in their own homes or nearby, to talk through the problems they are facing and work out a strategy to deal with the issues.  Cyrenians strongly recommends that anyone who feels they are struggling should contact the charity.

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