North Ayrshire Council say they will transform their homeless provision – aiming to deliver a more comprehensive service for those in need.

Last week the Herald revealed that NAC’s Cabinet agreed to close the hostel in Green Street, Saltcoats, and this follows on from a pilot in 2017 where the council will adopt a Housing First principal, placing very vulnerable households directly into housing, with a wraparound package of support.

The cornerstone of the plan is a transition to a Rapid Rehousing approach – this means that in cases where homelessness cannot be prevented, people will spend a minimum period of time in temporary accommodation before moving onto a tenancy.

North Ayrshire Council implemented a Housing First pilot in January 2017, placing homeless households with a range of complex needs directly into a mainstream tenancy. Each household undertook an inter-agency needs assessment to identify and provide the level and type of support required to maximise tenancy sustainment and improve life outcomes. This pilot has proved successful, as five of the six tenants have sustained their tenancy, are linking with statutory services and have not engaged in further criminal behaviour.

The Scottish Government have determined that hostel provision does not best meet the needs of people with complex issues and the council has made a funding bid to the Scottish Government Ending Homelessness Together fund to support delivery of the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place, said: “This is a bold and ambitious plan which we hope will allow us to take great strides in addressing issues around homelessness in North Ayrshire.

“Although many might view homelessness as an issue which is limited to the larger cities, the problem is very complex locally with a much greater proportion of homeless people in North Ayrshire experiencing drug, alcohol and mental health problems than is the case nationally.

“These proposals to ensure people find themselves in permanent accommodation quickly – with the support they need – will transform people’s lives and create a range of savings to the public purse as we end the revolving cycle of homelessness for very vulnerable people.”