Vivienne Nicoll: City's homelessness shame

HOMELESSNESS is a horror that few people can contemplate.

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But having no bed, no shelter and sleeping on the street is a nightmare for many people in this city.

The law says local authorities have a duty to provide emergency accommodation for anyone who suddenly becomes homeless.

However, in just six months last year, 235 of the 391 desperate people who approached the city council saying they had nowhere to live were turned away.

Of those 140 ended up

sleeping rough.

The situation in Glasgow became so desperate the Scottish Housing Regulator, which looks after the interest of homeless people, was forced to step in. The council's reaction was to find £12million to build two new 30 bed units which will open next year or the year after.

And it is in discussions with housing associations in an attempt to get more temporary and permanent accommodation for individuals and families facing the most desperate of situations.

But it is too little too late.

It is unforgiveable that people who have nowhere to go are turned away because of lack of accommodation.

How would any of us cope if we were told we had to sleep on a park bench or under a bridge?

Council bosses blame the closure of its large Victorian hostels , the lack of rented accommodation because of widespread demolition across the city and the problems caused by welfare reform and the bedroom tax.

However it knew well in advance that large parts of the city were being demolished and it decided the dates for closing its unpopular hostels.

So why has it taken the intervension of the Scottish Housing Regulator for the council to deal with the crisis facing some of its most vulnerable citizens?

It must have known it was facing a problem so why did council bosses not do something sooner.

The situation in Glasgow is so bad the Housing Regulator is demanding the council takes action to make immediate improvements as quickly as possible.

This means it has to present a comprehensive performance and improvement plan showing how it intends to improve the service it delivers to the homeless in the short, medium and longer term.

That is all well and good, but homelessness will not go away in the meantime.

People will continue to find themselves out on the streets, often for no fault of their own.

One person forced to sleep rough because the local authority cannot meet its obligations under the law is one too many.

But with more than 100 people being turned away last year it is hardly surprising the Housing Regulator has "significant concerns".

Local government

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