Homelessness

People battle extremely difficult circumstances every day. We are here to help. We want to make things as easy as possible.

Becoming homeless is often the result of complex issues. Each person’s journey is different. We bring kindness and an individual approach to each person we support.

Causes of homelessness

There are lots of different reasons why someone might become homeless. Social causes – like poverty, unemployment and the lack of affordable housing – are important factors. Other life events also play a part.

Relationship breakdown is one of the most common reasons people give for how they first became homeless. Some people are also forced into homelessness when they can no longer afford their rent or they lose a job. For others homelessness can be triggered when they have nowhere to go after leaving care, prison or the army. 

Being homeless is bad for your health

Experiences of trauma, addiction and poor mental health may be daily struggles for those navigating extreme difficulties on their own. The trauma may be recent and also in the past (e.g. abuse, difficulties in childhood, bereavements, etc.).

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.

This is why it is so important to try prevent homelessness wherever possible.

Research shows that if you’re rough sleeping in Scotland:

Your life expectancy is

47 years for men

43 years for women

Average life expectancy in Scotland is 86.6 years.

You have a

50/50 chance

of having a long-term mental illness and

9 times

more likely to commit suicide.

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.

Source: Homelessness – A Silent Killer (Report)

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.

Make it easy!

People struggling with homelessness in Scotland are entitled to a range of statutory support (see more below). However, accessing services can be very challenging. Many of the processes are complicated and require a detailed understanding of different systems and criteria.

We want to make it easy for people to access the services they need and are entitled to.

We work in partnership with local councils, 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 to find solutions that work for their situation.

Snapshot: How things work in Scotland

These are some terms and processes 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’. Local council housing officers have a role in supporting this process.
  • 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 (costs are covered 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 and council flats/homes (also called tenancies).
  • To access a council tenancy, 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 ‘About Us’ page.