A call has been made for temporary housing debts run up by homeless people in Dundee to be written off.
The plea was made during a debate on housing options for the homeless at a meeting of Dundee City Council, and in the wake of the controversy stirred up by city centre boss Sarah Craig after she dubbed rough sleepers “career beggars.”
During Monday night’s debate, members of the council’s neighbourhood services committee discussed the council’s Housing Options and Homelessness Strategic Plan.
Labour councillor Michael Marra called for debt run up to pay for temporary accommodation by homeless people to be written off.
He said: “The cost of temporary accommodation for homeless people in Dundee is only adding to a terrible cycle of indebtedness.
“Fighting for Fairness Dundee, our city poverty commission, has heard first hand accounts of citizens in debt losing their homes and then facing mounting debts from the high cost of temporary accommodation.
“Many people do not even realise that a bill is coming for their emergency help and the costs can be hundreds of pounds a week.
“Not everyone can obtain housing benefit and often any benefit does not cover the whole cost.
“Our council has to be part of the solution and not the problem.
“We should consider how these debts are treated, whether they can be set aside temporarily or, in some cases, permanently. “
Committee convener Kevin Cordell said there must be greater focus on early intervention to prevent people becoming homeless. He added: “We must take a holistic approach to cover all aspects of homelessness.”
Executive director of neighbourhood services Elaine Zwirlein said there is a variety of accommodation available for homeless people in Dundee.
She said: “These come at different costs depending on what services are available, including meals and level of support available.