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The Council in Aberdeen has been struggling to cope with the rising numbers of homeless people seeking accommodation in the city. In the last six months, the numbers of homeless people applying for temporary accommodation rose from 1,334, to 1,872 – an increase of 40 per cent.
The City Council's shortage of accommodation has meant that nearly 160 homeless people at a time are sleeping in B&Bs and hotels, with the taxpayer footing the bill.
By failing to supply enough beds, the local authority is not providing accommodation for the homeless in the way required by the law. The number of people let down by the council's failure to fulfil its legal duty has risen every month since April this year.
Shelter Scotland's head of policy and communication, Gordon MacRae, said that the charity has known for some time that the council is struggling to meet the demand for beds. He said: "Clearly, this is very concerning for people left without suitable support."
The shortage of beds in Aberdeen has been exacerbated by the blocking of plans to create a new hostel for the homeless at Aberdon House, reported in The Pavement in July.
Commenting on the situation, Aberdeen's Housing and Environment Committee convener, Aileen Malone, said that the demand for beds is greater in Aberdeen than in other cities. Councillor Malone said, "Because of Aberdeen's buoyancy, I think people come here looking for jobs. We expect it to continue to grow."
However, the council has recently put in place a number of initiatives to help meet the rising demand. Councillor Malone told The Pavement: "The Council will shortly open an additional Accommodation Unit which will accommodate 17 households. We are increasing our use of temporary flats from 180 to 300 by June 2011, and we are setting up a Private Sector Leasing Scheme in early 2011 which will provide access to up to 100 private sector flats in the first year."
Councillor Malone also emphasised that the council now priorities the prevention of homelessness: "The Council is establishing a Prevention Team to assist potentially homeless people to find realistic alternatives. The Team will be able to provide support to tackle some of the underlying problems which might lead to homelessness such as debt and substance misuse."