More children in Dundee are being forced to live in temporary housing as private rents in the city become increasingly unaffordable.
That is according to Shelter Scotland, which claims there is a housing supply “crisis” in the city.
The charity is looking for action to make more houses in a suitable condition available for people to rent.
It has now launched a Dundee Manifesto for Housing, outlining the action it wants to see taken in the city.
Rent levels in Dundee rising faster than inflation
According to Shelter, 235 children were living in temporary housing as of March this year, with households including children spending – on average – 285 days in temporary accommodation.
It also says rent levels for three and four-bedroom properties in Dundee and Angus have risen faster than inflation over the last 10 years.
Michelle Harrow, Shelter Scotland Dundee community hub manager, says she hopes the manifesto will lead to action.
She said: “At this stage, it should be clear to most that Scotland is in the grip of a serious housing emergency and Dundee is no exception.
“Acknowledging the crisis is one thing, acting is another. This Dundee Manifesto for Housing demands action from those who can address the combination of challenging housing circumstances seen in Dundee.
“Now that we have laid out an achievable route towards resolving these key issues, we need immediate action.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with politicians, local authorities, housing providers and private landlords to find long lasting solutions in Dundee.”
What action is the charity calling for?
Shelter Scotland‘s Dundee Manifesto for Housing as as follows.
1. Tackle Dundee’s housing supply crisis
- Shelter wants all political parties to commit to delivering the social housing required to reduce affordable housing need in Dundee, including through maximising the use of empty and vacant properties.
- The charity says Dundee City Council needs to deliver a wider variety of social homes to meet the needs of residents and different communities – including larger homes for multi-generational households, and smaller homes for young families and single people.
- There are also calls for more to be done to tackle disrepair across all tenures in the city, including investment to bring homes up to standard and meet climate and fuel poverty ambitions.
2. Strengthen and enforce housing rights
- Shelter is calling for Dundee City Council to make people aware of their housing rights and enforce them.
- The organisation says those leaving prison, residential rehabilitation or hospital – or fleeing domestic violence – have the right to a safe home, and that the council must enforce that right.
- According to Shelter, the city council must be given the training and resources necessary for it to meet the needs of service users.
- There are also calls for the local authority to work closely with service providers, such as the health and social care partnership, to better understand and solve the joint issues of addiction and homelessness – and maintain people’s right to a home while they seek and receive treatment.
3. End the temporary accommodation emergency
- The charity says Dundee City Council needs to invest in its temporary accommodation stock to ensure that it meets the needs of people who require it.
- There are also calls for increased support to be made available to people in temporary accommodation to ensure their needs are being met and it is a safe environment – including the provision of mental health support. Shelter claims people are “stagnating” and that they are falling into “more chaotic behaviours” as a result of the current situation.
4. Fix the broken private rental sector
- Shelter is calling for the council to do more to tackle disrepair in this sector and prevent “unscrupulous” landlords from letting out sub-standard homes to people unable to access the social housing sector, or afford higher quality rental homes.
- The charity also wants the local authority to ensure all existing legislation is used to tackle “irresponsible” landlords, including engaging with tenants to get feedback on landlords and building a more effective form of monitoring and inspection.
What is the council’s response?
In a statement to The Courier, Dundee City Council says it is “disappointing” that Shelter has “chosen not to recognise the good partnership working that is taking place in the city”.
The local authority says the charity itself has been commissioned to address some of the issues highlighted.
It has also criticised Shelter for failing to mention the “unprecedented impact of the Covid pandemic on people in the city” and efforts to ensure everyone had a roof over their head “during these exceptionally challenging times”.
A spokesperson said: “With regard to Shelter’s manifesto and the actions set out, Dundee City Council is already working with partner services, including Shelter Scotland, at both a strategic and operational level, in response to housing and homelessness priorities in the city.
“The council and its registered social housing partners aspirations for increasing the supply of affordable housing in the city are outlined in the Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) which reflects the needs highlighted in the Local Housing Strategy, the Local Development Plan and the City Centre Strategic Plan.
“An update on the SHIP will be put to elected members at the neighbourhood service committee in the near future.
“The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan outlines the stepping stones to reducing the need for temporary accommodation and speed up the permanent rehousing of those who find themselves homeless.”
The council says Shelter has been commissioned to deliver housing rights awareness activity locally, while funding and resources have been provided for a homeless prevention pilot project in partnership with the charity.
The council’s private sector services team are recognised for the positive and innovative work they do in supporting both landlords and tenants
Dundee City Council
It also says that arrangements are made to support people returning to the city from prison.
The spokesperson added: “In addition, the housing service works very closely with Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership on all issues relating to homelessness in the city including issues around addiction and there continues to be much integrated partnership working between housing, health and social care and the voluntary sector locally.
“Our commitment to tackling domestic abuse is evidenced in the development and implementation of the Housing Domestic Abuse Policy which was approved at neighbourhood services committee on the November 16 2020 and this policy has now been rolled out across council services.
“The council’s private sector services team are recognised for the positive and innovative work they do in supporting both landlords and tenants, within the limitations of existing legislation, as well as working with organisations such as Shelter and Generation Rent to proactively ensure that both tenants and landlords are aware of their individual rights and responsibilities.
“They continue to carry out necessary enforcement action within the sector and look forward to supporting proposed government changes to the repairing standard, the tolerable standard and energy efficiency within the private sector, all of which, in due course, should have a positive impact on standards within the sector.
“The team are actively working with Shelter at present in relation to the role of our empty homes officer.”