Homeless Deaths in 2019

Shelter Scotland says more social housing is part of the solution as hundreds die while experiencing homelessness.

The housing charity Shelter Scotland has said a lack of safe, secure and affordable social homes is a major factor in the deaths of hundreds of people experiencing homelessness.

The latest statistics from the National Records of Scotland estimate 216 people died while experiencing homelessness in 2019.

That’s an increase of 11% on the previous year and an alarming increase of almost a third (31%) in just two years.

Tragically, the average age at death is falling – and is now 43 for men and just 39 for women.

NRS said 54% of the deaths were drug-related and its analysis shows Scotland has a far higher rate of people dying while homeless than the other UK nations.

Shelter Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to match its commitment to £3.5 billion pounds to deliver more affordable and social homes over the next five years with a new plan to reduce housing inequality when it announces its Housing 2040 strategy next month.

Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland (pictured), said:

“The rising number of people dying at an ever-younger age while experiencing homelessness is shocking.

“Housing is a matter of life and death.

“These deaths fall in the long shadow cast by the shortage of social housing.

“While not often a direct cause of death, being denied the security of a safe and affordable social home adds to the instability many need to rebuild their lives.

“It creates new health problems and exacerbates those that already exist.

“Scotland has some of the strongest laws protecting people against homelessness in the world and a commitment to innovate with new approaches like Housing First, but that system is constantly undermined by the shortage of permanent social housing.

“It is a shortage that leads to long stays in temporary accommodation, people trapped in hotels not homes, record numbers of children perpetually homeless.

“Today’s shocking statistics relate to the year before the pandemic.

“It shows we must never go back to the ways of the past.

“Next month the Scottish Government is expected to set out a new Housing 2040 strategy.

“Today’s figures show that building enough homes to reduce housing inequality isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the critical to the life and health of the people and communities of Scotland.”