Glasgow’s homeless population is being forced to wait up to five years to be rehoused by the city council, with service users describing the system as ‘shambolic’.

Those presenting as homeless within the city have faced periods of as much as 1800 days without a home over the past five years.

The statistics, released as part of a freedom of information request by the Evening Times, reveal the years of hold-ups facing people without a house across the city.

One of those who faced massive delays in being rehoused was disabled single mum, Linda McDonald.

The 51-year-old, from Knightswood, was made homeless after her marriage broke down and she was forced to sell her house. She then waited three years before she was given another home.

As someone who relies on either wheelchair or crutches to get around, Linda alerted housing services before she contacted Shelter in the hope of being given a suitable home.

Unfortunately, like many, she rattled around the system in multiple homes over a period of years before she was rehoused.

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Linda said: “I was living in Knightswood and had phoned ahead because of my mobility. It made no difference.

“When I put in for temporary accommodation, I was given a tenement property on the top floor – I was more or less housebound for months.

“I approached the council and was moved to a multi-storey flat on the ninth floor. Unfortunately, I was only there for a short time before the lift went out of commission, so I was housebound again. I kept saying it wasn’t suitable so I was moved to the next block – this time on floor 12.

“Eventually, the issue was settled out of court, but it took three years of multiple different, unsuitable homes.

“It took a terrible toll on me, I was down to seven stone. I’ve never been in a prison cell, but it was like being under house arrest. That was my jail.

“I don’t see that the service is getting any better – it was shambolic. They are drowning, basically, and are turning people away.”

According to council records, the maximum amount of time which someone has been made to wait to be rehoused is five years, with others made to wait 1452 days and 1088 days after having presented in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively.

On average, the time taken to rehouse a homeless person in each of the past five years have been as high as seven and a half months, with averages dropping considerably in the past two years.

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However, the figures only represent those who have been permanently rehoused, and do not include those claims which are still ongoing. This means figures for more recent years are likely to rise after current applications are concluded.

As well as long waits, many, like Linda, are being given unsuitable housing options, forcing them to move multiple times before settling.

The system has seen those in temporary accommodation move to as many as 22 different locations in a single year.

While this figure dropped to 13 sites last year, this still means some people are having to move home more than once per month.

Those supporting homeless people like Linda say service users are being moved ‘from pillar to post’.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Scotland is in the grip of a housing emergency and these figures expose the human impact and why we have been calling for Glasgow City Council to overhaul its homelessness strategy.

“These horrendously long waits in temporary housing, often involving people moved from pillar to post, are the consequences of failing to invest in social housing. It’s the lack of permanent homes to move to that cause people to endure years in limbo in temporary housing which can sometimes be so unsuitable it affects their mental or physical health.

“If people get stuck in temporary accommodation it fills up and that leads to people being turned away; unlawfully denied accommodation. It’s this which has led Shelter Scotland to take Glasgow City Council to court.”

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“It’s been more than 40 years since Scotland last invested significantly in social housing and while we are beginning to see a revival in these badly needed homes we have to keep up momentum. We urgently need a commitment from the Scottish Government that it will continue to build. If we don’t this situation will simply not improve and there is every reason to believe it will get worse.”

Part of Glasgow City Council’s approach to homelessness, the Housing First programme, put in place over the past year, is to reduce the amount of time spent in temporary accommodation.

Instead, they aim to rehouse those without a roof over their heads much quicker than in previous years.

Councillor Tanya Wisely, spokesman for health and social care, said the Green group support the council’s Housing First model, but serious questions remain about the city’s homelessness services.

She added: “Greens support the moves to a Housing First approach, which has been shown to have a huge impact elsewhere, but these new figures expose the scale of the task the Council faces in turning things around.

“It should never be acceptable for people to be moved from pillar to post, or languish for years in unsuitable accommodation. Serious questions must be asked about why these situations were allowed to develop.”

Evening Times:

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership said: “Intensive work is underway to improve homeless provision in Glasgow and considerable progress is being made, despite the significant pressures on our staff and services. The maximum number of different accommodations anyone has stayed in a year has been reduced by almost 41% to 13 in 2018/19.

“Glasgow deals with more than 5000 homelessness cases every year and those that experience multiple accommodations are extremely rare, often indicative of complex needs, rather than available accommodation. We are working hard to ensure available support is provided to those who fit this profile through the continual expansion of our successful Housing First provision.

“Housing First is getting people with complex needs such as addictions or mental health issues into settled tenancies quickly and providing them with intensive support to sustain that tenancy while tackling any medical issues.

“We have seen an overall reduction in those who wait in temporary accommodation for long periods, which validates our commitment to this area of work.

“The figures quoted remain the exception and reflect the challenges we have housing large extended families waiting for multiple apartments in areas of their choice.

“Whilst extremely small in numbers this is nonetheless an area that we continue to focus on.

“Our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan sets out an ambitious plan for transforming homelessness in Glasgow and can be viewed in detail on the HSCP website.”