THE link between bad housing and health inequalities and how they impact on life chances is to be discussed at Scotland’s leading homelessness conference today (Wednesday 9th October).
Organised by charity Shelter Scotland, the ‘Housing, homelessness, advice and prevention’ summit, will see experts focus on the impact of housing on health inequalities in Scotland.
Says a spokesperson: “Research shows that the average life expectancy of a homeless person is 42 years of age.
“Previous research shows that 70 per cent of long-term homeless people show medical symptoms of malnutrition as three out of five homeless people have no daily intake of fruit or vegetables.
“Shelter Scotland says the consequences of poor nourishment are both physical and psychological.
“The challenges and opportunities for preventing homelessness after Scotland’s historic 2012 homelessness legislation, the impact of welfare reform and youth homelessness will also be addressed.
“The conference is the first of its kind in Scotland since the 2012 homelessness commitment was met. The commitment – which is internationally regarded as the cutting-edge of progressive homelessness reform – gives every unintentionally homeless person in Scotland the right to settled accommodation.”
Delegates will hear from leading experts, including Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare and Dr Andrew Fraser, director of Public Health Science, NHS Health Scotland.
Research findings include:
• The latest figures from the Scottish Government show that 39, 827 households made homeless applications to their local council in Scotland during 2012-13.
• Meanwhile, 348,000 homes in Scotland are affected by dampness or condensation. A total of 52 per cent of Scotland’s social housing currently falls beneath the new Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
• Fifty-nine thousand households are overcrowded in Scotland, representing three per cent of the total number of households in Scotland. Of these households 36,000 (61 per cent) are families with children.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said:
“Scotland is leading the world in progressive homelessness legislation but we have some way to go to address the housing crisis which faces hundreds of thousands of people in our society.
“Every day at Shelter Scotland we hear of families and individuals facing the tragedy of homelessness or living, often with young children, in damp, cold and sometimes dangerous housing.
“Addressing such housing inequality and the impact it has on health and life chances of people in Scotland is a key factor towards building a fairer society.
“The first step towards helping those who are homeless, threatened with homelessness or living in bad housing must be an increase in the availability of safe, secure and affordable homes.
“Scotland needs to build at least 10,000 affordable homes each year to meet demand. If there is will on all sides, together we can end Scotland’s housing crisis for good and work towards a fairer, healthier Scotland.”
Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess, said:
“Scotland is leading the way in its progressive homelessness legislation and its approach to addressing homelessness. However, having met our 2012 homelessness target we are not resting on our laurels.
“This Government aims to deliver 30,000 affordable homes – including 20,000 for social rent, over the life of this Parliament. Over the next three years we will be making over £900 million available for affordable housing.
“We recognise that preventing homelessness is about more than providing housing and reducing housing inequality requires partners across all sectors to work together around issues such as addressing health needs. That’s why we have been working with partners to ensure Health and Homelessness Standards continue to be implemented across Scotland.”
Dr Andrew Fraser, director of Public Health Science, NHS Health Scotland, said:
“A roof over your head is a fundamental human need, a basic requirement for reasonable health and wellbeing and security.
“A decent home for young people to grow up is also a reasonable expectation for all children in a wealthy country like Scotland, yet it appears still to be beyond the reach of around 36,000 families in this country.
“With homelessness and poor housing comes a spectrum of associated health problems and challenges of basic daily living. The likelihood of experiencing increasingly poor housing is on a gradient that goes hand in hand with poor health and wellbeing.
“Legislation marks a milestone for measures to eradicate homelessness in Scotland, but we must go further to ensure that implementation is sustained.”
Tackling bad health and inequalities in Scottish society are both part of the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes.
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Contact: Shelter Scotland