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Council to purchase private homes to help with homelessness

West Lothian Council has approved plans to purchase 30 private properties which will be converted into 60 temporary sharing spaces.

04 October
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The sharing spaces will be used to provide temporary accommodation for local people in need of emergency or temporary housing.

The council has a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation to homeless applicants who require assistance with accommodation.

The council continues to experience a high demand for assistance from people who are homeless and require temporary accommodation. The position is being felt across Scotland as the demand for homeless services rises.

30 two bedroom ex-council properties will be purchased by West Lothian Council and converted into two-person temporary sharing spaces. The council estimate the project will cost £3.75 million which includes the purchase of the homes, repair costs and furniture. There is also an assumption that the homes can be converted back to mainstream council housing when required at a later date.

The council estimate that cost savings will be delivered, as the use of B&B accommodation will be reduced buy up to 60 places. The council estimate that they will cut costs on B&B by nearly £900,000 each year which can then be invested in local council housing in future.

At the end of September, there were 9,762 applications for housing in West Lothian with over 850 homeless applications. 1,260 people are currently housed in temporary accommodation with 146 people in bed and breakfast accommodation. Around 32% of all temporary accommodation residents are under 18.

Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul added:

"There is a clear need to take action to tackle the issues with homelessness in West Lothian and this is a positive step forward in helping local people at a time when they are in desperate need.

"To reduce the number of people placed in bed and breakfast accommodation, a number of actions are being put in place to provide suitable temporary accommodation, including dedicated new build housing for younger people and sharing spaces for single homeless applicants. Single homeless applicants make up 71% of all homeless applicants in West Lothian, and sharing accommodation can often be a more suitable placement for young people as this provides peer support which reduces social isolation often felt by young homeless people, whilst our officers have an opportunity to assist in building their skills to move into settled accommodation and sustain a successful long term tenancy.

"The council already has sharing accommodation at Blackburn Homeless Unit which works well and we are pleased to be able to move forward with our plans to provide more accommodation for local people."