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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Land of the free, homes for the brave

February 10 2012
White House advisor commends Scotland’s homeless commitment


Scotland’s ‘2012 commitment’ has been praised by top White House advisor Dr Dennis Culhane, ahead of Shelter Scotland’s ‘Homelessness 2012: Where next?’ conference to be held in Edinburgh this month.

The praise is aimed at the 2003 legislation passed by Holyrood, which promised that every homeless person would have the right to a home by the end of 2012, and not just those considered ‘priority need’, as is the situation at present. In January-March 2011, six local authorities assessed 100 per cent of homeless as priority, 10 assessed between 90-100 per cent the same, 17 between 80-90 per cent and only three below 80 per cent. While some see this as great progress, others argue that still more needs to be done to meet the target and move beyond it.

Dr Dennis Culhane, and professor of Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, who has worked alongside both US president Barrack Obama and his predecessor George W Bush, hailed Scottish councils commitment to end homelessness by the end of 2012.

However, he added that it was vital that this commitment became a reality not just a legal right - people must be allowed to access homes not just have the right to one.

He said: “Scotland’s groundbreaking commitment to end homelessness is serving as a model for how many other countries view homelessness solutions.

“In some ways, Scotland and the United States share a similar vision in eradicating homelessness and that is reflected in the move for prevention, rather than cure.

“While the 2012 commitment showcases Scotland’s progressive homelessness legislation, its success can only be measured by the number of people lifted out of homelessness and given not only the legal right to a home, but the real chance of actually living in one.”

The US has yet to adopt such as policy. While it aims to provide homeless people with permanent housing at lower-cost rents, there is still a considerable homeless problem. Some sources estimating 750, 000 of the 300million US population as homeless, whilst others as much as two million.

Gordon MacRae, Head of Communications and Policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “The 2012 commitment has been the historic milestone for homelessness policy in Scotland for the last ten years and this major event is designed to help Scotland accelerate over the finishing line.

“With exactly one year to go we are encouraged that many local authorities have shown dedication to meeting the 2012 homelessness commitment and that some are in fact already there. There are other local authorities across Scotland with more work to do, but it is by no means too late. We hope this conference will help all local authorities to address the challenges they face and identify solutions going forward.”