Dundee City Council has put the brakes on its plans to accelerate rehousing homeless people because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Its Rapid Rehousing strategy, drawn up in 2018, aims to reduce the council’s reliance on temporary accommodation such as hostels when rehousing homeless people.
The intention is to stop vulnerable people from spending too long in temporary accommodation, surrounded by equally vulnerable individuals, in order to help them find a level footing as they address personal issues.
Experimental data published by the National Records of Scotland suggests six people in Dundee died in 2017 and 2018 while either sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation.
However, the plan has been put on the backburner due to the coronavirus crisis, with those who are in temporary accommodation now likely to wait even longer to secure a stable tenancy.
A letter seen by the Tele by the council’s housing team suggests that those who present as homeless will no longer be prioritised for council lets – and will instead be deferred to temporary accommodation as before.
Only those who are “in crisis” will be prioritised, according to the briefing, while those who have spent time in homeless accommodation will have to wait longer to secure a permanent tenancy.
“We are prioritising essential relets (of council properties) to support anyone presenting to our Housing Options Team in crisis requiring temporary accomodation,” it read.
“Previously we agreed to allocate 100% (of) lets to our Homeless waiting list but given recent developments in Government guidance we have had to reprioritise our essential lets, mainly temporary accommodation.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “The council continues to adhere to its statutory duties and will assess individual cases in line with legislation and guidance.
“Anyone who is in crisis and requires emergency accommodation should contact the Housing Options Service on 01382 432001 or Freephone 0800 633 5843.
“The council remains committed to its Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan however given the unprecedented times, the immediate priority has to be supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities and we will keep this under review as the situation develops.”
Housing partners in the city, such as Transform Community Development, have already closed existing temporary accommodation such as Soapwork Lane.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, was involved in the working group that inspired the creation of the Rapid Rehousing strategy.
The charity said it was too busy to comment on the change to Dundee’s plans.