William McCallum: Scotland still does not have the affordable homes it needs

Affordable housing has been a hot topic in Scotland for a long time, and the Scottish Government has pledged to invest £3.44 billion in social and affordable homes by 2026.

But the question remains …what happens in the meantime for every individual and family that needs a home?

Historically, Scotland’s housing problems came to light after the Glasgow rent strike of 1915. A royal commission reported the “unspeakably filthy privy-middens” in many mining areas; badly constructed damp labourers’ cottages on farms; towns unfit for human occupation; lightless and unventilated houses in older burghs; and masses of slums in cities.

And the result? A massive council house construction programme ensued. In 1914, 90 per cent of housing stock had been in private hands, but, by 1981, public sector housing peaked at 55 per cent.

The celebrations were short-lived though. In 1980, the government of Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right to Buy scheme which gave council tenants the chance to buy their rented homes at discounted rates. It saw housing stock depleted to an unrecognisable low. People who couldn’t get on the private property ladder were again marginalised.

Fast-forward to the present day and, although the so-called slums are gone, the lack of affordable decent homes in Scotland remains a problem, as we await the rebirth of social housing.

That is why Ypeople’s support is tailored to those in need of homes; whether that’s care-experienced young people or families at risk of homelessness. Ypeople is a charity rooted in the hearts of communities across Scotland and it supports an average of 4,100 people each year to make positive changes in their lives. The charity provides tailored support to people of all ages who are at risk of homelessness, and helps them to move forward with their lives.

Some people benefit from our Rent Deposit Scheme which breaks down the tenancy barrier of a hefty deposit. This agreement means the deposit is paid like a loan, then broken down into manageable instalments for the new tenant.

Other people are given temporary or supported accommodation when faced with homelessness – for example, young unaccompanied asylum seekers or older teenagers with nowhere to call home. As well as Ypeople’s own furnished flats, we work with hundreds of landlords whose properties we manage for our tenants. The overall result is affordable and supportive housing for those who need it.

So, until Scotland’s housing stock stands tall again, we must carry on to open other doors to those who need them. Although we have a collection of Ypeople flats to offer, our capacity is remarkably strengthened by more than 100 private landlords we work with.

Together, we help more people and families find homes and prevent homelessness.

William McCallum is property manager at Ypeople

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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