Study says many of Scotland’s homeless choose to sleep rough

Many homeless people turn down accommodation and choose to sleep
rough, according to the latest Scottish executive statistical
report on rough sleepers.

The report, by George Street Research, shows that in a spot check
on one night in October 2001, 117 people were sleeping rough on the
streets of Scotland even though there were 180 beds available.

Robert Aldridge, director of the Scottish Council for Single
Homeless, said: “We accept some people will avoid the available
accommodation. The question is, why? Is the accommodation in the
wrong places? Is the accommodation run in the wrong way? The only
way to find out is to listen to homeless people themselves.”

Hugh Henry, Scotland’s deputy minister for social justice, welcomed
the report saying: “We will continue to work with local authorities
to improve the connection between people sleeping rough and the
services and accommodation which have been developed and funded
through the Rough Sleepers Initiative.”

The executive has set a target for no one in Scotland to be
sleeping rough by 2003.

This latest report casts some doubt on whether that target can be
achieved, particularly in five local authorities identified as
having insufficient places for the estimated number of rough
sleepers in their areas.

A spokesperson for the Scottish executive said: “We will ask those
local authorities that do not have sufficient places to explain why
and then ask that they address the problems that prevent them
meeting demand.”

Aldridge said: “It’s good that we now know where the gaps in
service lie. The task now is to develop services so that no one
need sleep rough in Scotland.”

The Scottish executive is set to introduce the Homelessness
(Scotland) Bill next month. This will expand the categories of
people who will be assessed as having a priority need for

The overall aim is that every homeless person, unless excluded for
a specific reason, will have the right to permanent accommodation
by 2012.

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