A mother who lost her son while he was living in housing limbo has made a desperate plea for action as it is revealed that more than 160 have died in temporary accommodation for the homeless in Glasgow since the pandemic started.

Frankie McVean was one of 43 homeless people who have died while living in temporary accommodation in Glasgow between January 1, 2023, and April 1, 2024. Some 17 of those died while in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation.

Glasgow, along with other areas of Scotland, has become more reliant on what many housing campaigners describe as unsuitable temporary halfway house accommodation for the homeless because of a lack of permanent, settled houses.

Frankie's mother Linda McVean has called for an end to the "dumping" of homeless people in unsuitable emergency homes in the wake of the series of deaths.

She and another mother Maureen Thomson, from south west Glasgow, had raised concerns with the Scottish Government last year that their sons died of suspected overdoses in hotels which it was feared had become notorious for drug dealing.


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In July, then First Minister Humza Yousaf met the two bereaved mothers to demand the Scottish Government acts to at least improve conditions for the homeless in temporary accommodation.

Ms McVean whose 30-year-old son died at the Queens Park Hotel in Glasgow on May 14, last year showed the First Minister a photo of her son, who was not a drug addict but is believed to have dabbled in street Valium.

Her son, who was working as a scaffolder had been in temporary accommodation for more than six months and had been desperate for a settled home. He died after he took Valium which had been laced with rat poison. She believes her son would not have died had they been housed in better conditions.

Estimates based on Glasgow City Council records show that since the pandemic, more than 160 have died while living in temporary accommodation in Glasgow. And some 50 of those died while housed in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation.

Ms McVean, who lives with husband Jonnie in Penilee, said Mr Yousaf had promised to write to her within a month after considering their pleas.

(Image: NQ)

But the 55-year-old revealed a letter provided little by way of comfort that things would change.

One of Ms McVean's asks was for an one-off £25m uplift in funding for Glasgow City Council's homelessness services which it was hoped would be used to renovate and improve hotels used as temporary housing and provide other support.

But a response in July, last year from Mr Yousaf's constituency office offered little hope of extra money, although it said that the First Minister had agreed to contact the Scottish Housing Regulator to enquire about the process of monitoring living standards in hotels used as temporary accommodation.

"Nothing has improved," she said. "We wanted better standards."

She described her son as a "fun, loving and caring boy who had his whole life ahead of him", but she said he lost his life "far too soon".

"It was the anniversary of his death in May and it has been hard to deal with," she said.

"He didn't want to stay with his mum and dad and left home. He got temporary accommodation and was hoping to get a house like his brother Jonathan. It didn't happen.

"We are annoyed he was there for so long without being properly housed.

"His room was horrible. The toilet door was bolted. He had to go to someone else's place do the toilet," said Ms McVean who said her son had frequently complained about the poor conditions.

"The hotels are raking it in but the standards there are horrendous.

"People need better care and attention."

Councils have a statutory obligation to offer temporary accommodation when they assess a person or household as unintentionally homeless. Most councils meet this obligation all of the time.

Video: Frankie McVean took his own video of conditions in his temporary accommodation, where he said his toilet was bolted shut

When lockdown began in March 2020 hundreds of rough sleepers were brought in off the streets to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

With temporary accommodation full, many were placed in hotels. But campaigners raised concerns that B&B's and hotels were not fit to deal with people in crisis and that consequently, homeless people were losing out on access to drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

Some 2000 homeless people were housed in bed and breakfasts in Glasgow alone in the first nine months while new rules were delayed that were meant to ensure that they were only to be used in emergencies and for no more than seven days.

Ms McVean compared where her son was staying to Hotel California, as depicted in the hit by The Eagles of the same name saying: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave".

She said she had lost "my handsome boy" but had hoped that she could help prevent other parents from losing their children.

She said that the hotel had been run "like a prison" with some humiliating constraints.

At one point she said her son was kicked out for turning up 20 minutes late one night due to curfews in place and he was moved to another hotel for seven days but then was allowed to return. Ms McVean has been demanding a full enquiry into the way temporary accommodation is run and funded by government.

"The system is all wrong and something must be done about it," said Ms McVean, who was a bar manager when she married her husband seven years ago in the pub where they first met, Denholms in Hope Street, Glasgow. Her late son was at the Valentine's Day wedding.

Frankie McVean (far right) was at his mother's wedding seven year ago.

"These hotels that are housing the homeless are raking in the money and putting nothing back in. The places are hell holes and not fit for purpose.

"Someone must take responsibility for all that is going on with this situation, better facilities are required to help and support the homeless..."

Councils across Scotland spent more than £720m of public money on placing the homeless in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts and hotels over the last five years because of the housing shortage.

According to estimates based on council returns the cost to the public purse has nearly doubled since before the pandemic and despite six-year old legislation which was meant to curb homelessness, cut the use of temporary accommodation and rapidly rehouse people.

Scotland's biggest city, Glasgow tops the costs table with a £54.526m spend in 2023, nearly twice as much as the pre-Covid year of 2019 when costs were at £27m.

Ms McVean said: "Frankie had a good job. He was comfortable. He just wanted his his own flat.

"I just hope things will change."

The Scottish Tenants Organisation which has been supporting the families whose loved ones have died said there should be at the first instance an improvement in wraparound services for the homeless being placed in housing limbo and backed demanded for more social rented homes be built.

"We met with Mr Yousaf, who promised to help but in reality the homeless situation in these hotels has worsened as yet more homeless people have been crammed in to these horrible institutions with conditions worsening over time," the said STO campaign co-ordinator Sean Clerkin. "The conditions in these homeless hotels have to be drastically improved.

"There also has to be a housing revolution in Glasgow to build thousands of new social rented homes and bring back into circulation thousands of empty homes through them being retrofitted in to decent homes for homeless people."

The Scottish Housing Regulator, which oversees and regulates social landlords, council housing and homelessness services said that the Scottish Government published new advisory standards for temporary accommodation in April 2023.

They said that since then they have had "a number of discussions with the Scottish Government about its plans to make the standards legally enforceable and how they could be regulated by SHR".

A spokesman added: "In the meantime, we continue to monitor, assess and report on local authorities’ compliance with the Unsuitable Accommodation Order."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We send our deepest condolences to Ms McVean and Ms Thomson and to all those who have lost a loved one. Through our £250m National Mission on drugs, we’re focused on supporting those affected by problem substance use, implementing evidence-based approaches to improve and save lives.

“Glasgow City Council homelessness services have completed a major safeguarding exercise on all hotel and B&B residents. All homeless people placed in a hotel or B&B receive support from their allocated caseworkers from across a number of services and all hotel staff, including security, have received harm-reduction advice, and naloxone and mental health first-aid training.

“Across Scotland, local authorities are expected to adhere to our temporary accommodation advisory standards. These include ensuring staff have also been trained in recognising trauma and caring for those dealing with it, as well as offering support to access addiction and mental health services. We have also continued to invest in providing naloxone kits, with more than 100 non-drug services, including homelessness services, able to distribute them.”

(Image: NQ)

A council spokeswoman said: “Any death in temporary accommodation is a tragedy and our thoughts are with any families affected.

"Homelessness Services in Glasgow face unprecedented pressures with increasing numbers of people coming to the city in search of accommodation and access to services.

“The council and our partners are in continual dialogue with both Governments about these challenges and to seek the additional resources necessary to address them.”

Queens Park Hotel was approached for comment.