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Thousands of Scots still trapped in unsuitable temporary housing

This news post is 10 months old

Impact of this on families can be devastating

Thousands of families across the country are living life in limbo because of being trapped in temporary accommodation, according to Shelter Scotland. 

There are 13,192 households, including 7,510 children across Scotland, trapped in temporary accommodation, often in cramped, unsuitable conditions.

Many of them have been living like this for months, and some for years. 

The impact of this can be devastating. Research has shown children who have been homeless are three to four times more likely to experience mental health problems than children who have never been homeless, even a year after they’ve secured a permanent home, as well as increasing the risk of severe ill-health or disability.

According to teachers, children who are homeless or in bad housing are often late, exhausted and struggle to maintain relationships with other children.2  

Living in temporary accommodation can also hugely affect family life and relationships, disrupt learning and impact on health and job prospects.  

In the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan published last week, Shona Robison, secretary for housing, said the ambition to tackle child poverty is at the heart of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme and support will be provided for families in temporary accommodation, to address issues that have caused homelessness and provide immediate needs assessments when a family arrives in temporary accommodation.

However, Shelter Scotland say this needs to happen urgently. 

Director of Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson, said: “The effects of waiting for a place to call home are shattering. And in the face of a growing cost-of-living crisis, the problem will only worsen. More and more people, especially families with children, are being pushed further into poverty, often having to choose whether to pay rent or keep themselves warm. 

 “When there’s no room to breathe, there’s no room to thrive. As more people are exposed to the risk of homelessness, only social housing can stem the tide. The Scottish Government has promised the cash for new social homes, we need to keep fighting to make sure they’re actually built. 


“With the local elections just around the corner our cities’ leaders can’t shirk their responsibilities. We need them to step up and finally contribute to building a future where everyone in Scotland, without exception, has their right to housing upheld.   


“We can’t look the other way. The scale of the challenge is clear, but council leaders must rise to meet it. The thousands of children without the security and safety a permanent home provides can’t wait a second longer.”  

Jean’s story 

When Jean became homeless, she was given temporary accommodation. Jean has health conditions that means she struggles with stairs. The flat is up six flights. The flat is crowded, with her son having to sleep in the living room. She was told this would just be a temporary arrangement, a few weeks at most, before something more suitable was arranged. That was five years ago. 

“I’ve been in temporary accommodation for five years now. When I was given this flat, I made sure the housing association knew I had health conditions that meant I struggle with stairs. To get to this flat you’ve got to walk up a massive hill, then another wee hill, then the stairs. The lift is always broken. I feel trapped. 

“It’s not good for my health. I’m stuck in here 24/7. There was one time when I went to the shops, I had to climb the hill back to the flat, then the 30 stairs and I collapsed. It was a neighbour found me. If it wasn’t for them, I might not be here. Being stuck here means my sons don’t have their own lives either, because they’re so worried about me they can’t get on and do their own thing. 

“So many of our things had to go into storage when we were moved here because there isn’t room to keep them. When we finally do get a house loads of it will be no use to us. Things like the bike we got my granddaughter for Christmas, we’ve been in temp that long it’ll be too wee for her now.  

“It makes me feel really guilty. Like my weans aren’t getting a proper house, a proper home. 

“Houses have come up that are big enough for all of us, but we’re always told we can’t get them because of my health conditions. They say they’re not suitable, because the bathroom’s upstairs, the bedrooms upstairs that kind of thing. It feels like there’s always an excuse.  

“I’ve also got my granddaughter living here, she’s 11. The flat is so crowded, one of my boys' sleeps in the living room. It’s been five years and I still have no idea how long we’ll be stuck here. When we were made homeless Shelter Scotland helped us get the council to refer us to the housing associations. When our referral was accepted, we thought that in a few weeks we’d be housed. That hasn’t happened. 

“It would be amazing to finally get the house I want. The boys could finally have their privacy, if there was even a wee garden, I could finally go outside instead of sitting in here with the curtains shut. There’d be no more stress, it would change everything.”  



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