Out for the count
June 7th 2010
Edinburgh council is again under fire, this time from one of its own councillors, who claims its current way of measuring the number of homeless people in the city is failing to record the true number of people sleeping rough.
Speaking at the health, social care and housing committee, Councillor Gordon Munro called for a report into the issue. He said he had been contacted by a number of organisations that deliver services for homeless people in the city, and that the council's reports of a decrease in the number of rough sleepers was contradicted by personal experience.
He mentioned a shelter for rough sleepers that he visited just before it was closed down. "I asked, what happens to these people next week? There were 40 people there. I still don't know the answer to that."
Councillor Elaine Aitken had also visited the shelter on the same night, and commented on the fact that many of the homeless people in Edinburgh were from Eastern Europe, and did not easily fit into council services.
"They do live very chaotic lifestyles, which make it hard to get tenancy - they've lost their passports, their ID cards... they've slipped through every net," she said.
Convenor of the committee, Councillor Paul Edie, said he would seek "further sources of information" from providers, but fell short of calling for a full report on the way homlessness is measured.
Edie rejected Munro's suggestion that the council's policy on homelessness was not successful. He said that he was quite willing to hear from organisations working with homeless people on the issue - but that he had heard nothing to that effect so far.
He also pointed out that the methodology used to measure homelessness was the same one that had been used by the last Labour council administration.