Concerns raised over homelessness among East Renfrewshire’s men

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Relationship troubles forced dozens of men to sleep in parks, car parks and doorways across East Renfrewshire last year.

A new report has revealed that the majority of rough sleepers were men aged between 26 and 50.

Housing officers raised concerns in May this year after almost 12 per cent of homeless applicants claimed to have slept rough.

East Renfrewshire Council are now preparing to target men as part of a new promotional campaign to increase awareness of housing advice and support services.

Andrew Cahill, the council’s director of environment, said: “In most cases the period of rough sleeping appears to have only been one to three nights with no indication of rough sleeping occurring after the customer had approached housing services for assistance.

“The majority of cases were males aged 26-50, often sleeping rough as a result of a relationship breakdown or who already had a history of ‘sofa surfing’. The location of rough sleeping was disclosed by the majority of customers and included carparks, places of work, outdoors in the local parks or communal areas in tenemental flats.

“Analysis has shown that rough sleeping was often a result of an argument or a dispute that is ongoing and the applicant does not always present as homeless at the beginning of their situation.”

Mr Cahill claimed there had been some cases where applicants had said they were sleeping rough when in fact they were sleeping at a friend’s house.

And housing advisors have now been told to investigate claims of rough sleeping in further detail to avoid wrongful recording in homeless applications.

The council has been asked to produce a ‘rapid re-housing plan by December’ for the Scottish Government in a bid to eradicate rough sleeping.

The report also showed that 36 of the council’s 315 homeless applicants last year returned to the address they were living at before making their application.

This was around 11 per cent of all applicants – up from 6.5 per cent the previous year – something described as “higher than usual” by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Nine of those applicants returned home after being given advice, while 21 refused to move into social homes before returning to their original address.

The remaining six did move into temporary accommodation but later returned to their homes.

Mr Cahill said that a large number of the homeless applicants were from Eastwood and refused to move into social housing in the Levern Valley.

He added: “The low availability of social housing in East Renfrewshire prevents housing services from meeting the aspirations of any homeless applicants. A large number of applicants presented from the Eastwood area where availability of social housing is particularly limited.”