A new initiative to fast-track homeless people in Aberdeen into permanent accommodation could be approved next week.
The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) is a five-year scheme which aims to fulfil the Scottish Government target to eradicate homelessness by 2024.
Aberdeen City Council’s ambitious plan commits the council to reducing the amount of time a person is homeless from an average of 164 days down to 50 over the next five years.
As part of this, the council aims to stop using hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation for the city’s homeless and has pledged to reduce its use of hostel accommodation by retaining only one hostel in the city.
In the council’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, it states that within the Aberdeen Strategic Housing Investment Plan 2019-2024, up to 2,037 affordable homes could be provided – but a grant of £119.7 million is needed.
There are also plans to launch an online portal with all housing options from all providers and private landlords operating across the city, and a push to get all registered social landlords to allocate half their stock to homeless clients.
But the report adds that some supported accommodation must continue to be made available for some of the most “chaotic people” suffering from drink and drug problems who may still need it.
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John Wheeler, convener of the council’s operational delivery committee, said: “We have to have a strategy in place to address the issue.
“It is perhaps ambitious. However having ambitious targets isn’t necessarily a reason for not setting them.
“In tackling any issue like this the key to achieving the outcomes is through partnership agency working.”
The high pressure on Aberdeen’s private sector rental market has traditionally made it “very hard” to offer intentionally homeless households reasonable housing options, according to the report.
But it states that as rental costs have reduced over the last few years, the council has been successful in supporting more people into private sector housing options, via use of a fund to support households with their first month’s rent or deposit.
In Aberdeen, the council is planning to create a housing support hub for homeless households and those currently in council tenancies, which will offer support and advice.
It also intends to consider the housing stock it has on offer through social landlords and take action to retrofit properties to meet current demand.
This could include converting a number of empty two-beds that landlords have across the city to one-bedroom properties or further innovation around how these two-bed properties are offered to single people or couples.
And work is already under way to bring some of the 2,000 long-term empty homes across the city back into occupation and has created a two-year post for an empty homes officer.
It has also allocated £50,000 to establish an empty homes loan fund which aims to bring empty properties back into use for those on the council’s housing lists.
Members of the council’s operational delivery committee will be asked to approve the initiative when it meets on Thursday.