MANY people know that sinking feeling. A homeless unit is opened in their close or street and they immediately assume that it’s the end of the neighbourhood. Not all experiences are bad, however, as people soon realise that most homeless tenants are just normal citizens trying to get on with their lives.

There are some horror stories, of course, but councils are charged with providing homes to everyone. The units are supposed to be short term for these tenants and are supposed to move location every three years. However, they tend to continue for too long and it’s not fair on local residents as they don’t know who will arrive on their doorstep next.

New housing legislation has been introduced in the latest attempt to end homelessness in Scotland. There have been many attempts over the years with some success but, unfortunately, the world does not stand still and we have to respond to current circumstances.

Ending rough sleeping is a priority and moving homeless people into permanent accommodation is the new plan. There is government money going into these plans but there is a catch. Local councils will have to develop a five-year plan to implement the rapid housing model. This will include the provision of more social housing, more social services and more partnership working between councils and housing associations.

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The situation in recent years has severely impacted on the ability of local councils to build new houses. Housing associations receive considerably more in government subsidies than councils and they were in a much better position to build new homes and ensure better maintained properties. Councils were also required to house all homeless applicants while losing their better housing stock through the Right to Buy scheme.

The result was houses that were built in the 60s and 70s became un-letable with tenants refusing to move into them. It is not acceptable to allow areas to become dumping grounds for problem tenants and then wonder why we can’t solve the homeless problem.

I hope this new strategy works and the blight of sub-standard housing is confined to history. All people need a chance in life and a decent house with support when you need it goes a long way to a normal, settled lifestyle. Let’s hope we receive proper funding to achieve this.