MORE than 14 people have died every month in Scotland while homeless since the pandemic hit, despite the offer of hotel accommodation to prevent deaths.

New estimates shared with the Herald have revealed that more than 520 homeless people have died in the past three years, including more than 165 in Glasgow alone.

In Edinburgh, there were estimated to be more than 40 homeless deaths in 2022 - more than the fatalities in the two years of 2020 and 2021 put together.

The numbers which provide the first clear unofficial indication of the depth of the homelessness crisis includes those who have died while living on the streets, sofa surfing, and in emergency or temporary accommodation.

They have been gathered with the help of Freedom of Information requests and a national network of organisations that contribute to the Dying Homeless Project overseen by the Museum of Homelessness (MoH).

The independent investigation taken up by MoH prompted the Office for National Statistics to start producing its own numbers on homeless deaths.

The analysis reveals that there were more than 160 homeless deaths across Scotland in 2022. That's more than 20 than the 18 month period to March, 2019 when the investigation first started but 19 fewer than in 2020.

The MoH said that they were "depressing findings" and that the deaths in Glasgow and Edinburgh were amongst the highest rates of UK deaths across the UK in 2022.

They believed that their numbers an an underestimation of the numbers of homeless deaths in Scotland - as a small number of local local authorities did not respond to FOI requests.

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It comes as a delegation of homeless campaigners launched a street protest yesterday calling for thousands of empty homes across Scotland, including 600 flats at the 26-storey towers at Wyndford in the Maryhill area of Glasgow to be used to house homeless people.

The Herald:

The Scottish Tenants Organisation said the new figures were "a scandal" and called for a massive social house building programme in Scotland to eradicate homelessness "once and for all". 

"The picture of homeless deaths is horrendous," the group said.  "The shocking reality is that the numbers will be even higher."

It comes as the number of applications received by councils during 2021/22 from households looking for help with homelessness soared by 4% on the previous year to just over 35,000.

There were 14,214 households in temporary accommodation according to the housing regulator in March, 2022- a rise of 20% from 2020.

And the number of cases of Scots councils failing to meet their legal duty to accommodate Scotland's homeless soared by 20% in a year.

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.

But in 2021/22 there were 725 instances where there was failure to provide temporary accommodation, of which Edinburgh accounted for 695.

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In 2020/21 there was a failure to accommodate in 595 cases.

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 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 are only to be used in emergencies and for no more than seven days.

At its peak as many as 600 homeless people were in B&B and hotel accommodation in Glasgow.

The Herald:

In February it emerged that as many as 36 homeless people died at six hotels in Glasgow which have been used to protect their wellbeing as the numbers in temporary accommodation across the nation have soared.

The death toll confirmed by Police Scotland shows that eight people died at St Enoch Hotel, with four at the Chez Nous Guest House and one at Hillhead Hotel.

Nine have died Alexander Thomson Hotel, with seven passing away at the city’s Queens Park Hotel while there another seven at the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel.

The deaths have happened after March 2020, with most believed to be during the pandemic and related to drug overdoses.

Matt Turtle, co-founder of the Museum of Homelessness said: "It's sad for us to see that the numbers that have died whilst homeless in Scotland with Edinburgh and Glasgow having some of the highest rates of deaths in the UK in 2022. It's appalling that such loss of life continues, though we hope the reduction in numbers we have seen across the country as a whole continues next year."

Sean Clerkin, campaign co-ordinator of the STO said that they want those in authority to finally listen to what the homeless want.

"These deaths put us all to shame in Scotland. What needs to be done is to bring thousands of empty homes back into circulation for social renting," he said.

"There has to be homes to house homeless people," he said. "This picture of homelessness is absolutely appalling."

Aditi Jehangir, secretary for Living Rent said: "Scotland’s social support system is broken. These deaths show how desperate Scotland’s lack of support for homeless people has become. Scotland has the resources to stop this: no one should be dying on the streets.

For over 500 people to have died over the last three years should shame our politicians into action. Not a single one of these deaths should have happened.

"Alongside many other failures, there is a serious failure to provide long term housing for those in need. We need stronger protections against eviction and greater support to stay put."

Last month it emerged that 700 tenants have faced court proceedings from private landlords to remove them from properties since the Scottish Government imposed an eviction ban in September that has been branded a "travesty".

Ms Jehnagir added: "Our social housing stock is not enough to provide for the demand and rents in the private sector are just unaffordable for too many. With thousands in temporary accommodation joining those already on housing waiting lists, the government needs to take immediate steps to alleviate the housing crisis, not cut the social housing budget. Housing should be a right not a luxury. But with cuts to social housing funding the government is turning the crisis into a disaster."

Nick Durie of the Wyndford residents union who joined yesterday's Glasgow Hope Street protest said: "We have 518 who have died in the past three years [while homeless]. At Wyndford, we have over 500 empty homes. Anyone of those people [who died] could have been living their life there."

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy. While homeless deaths are hard to accurately measure, we know that experience of multiple forms of extreme disadvantage, including homelessness, poor mental health and opioid dependence, is linked to higher rates of ill health and premature death.

“We are committed to doing all we can to address disadvantage and prevent homelessness from happening in the first place. That is why we are introducing new homelessness prevention duties in the forthcoming Housing Bill and why we continue to support local authorities to develop Housing First programmes. As part of the national mission on drug deaths, we are also working to strengthen partnerships between health and homelessness services to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness and multiple complex needs, including substance use.

“Outlining the Scottish Government’s priorities today, the First Minister was clear that housing is crucial to achieving our aspirations for a fairer country. Scotland has led the way in delivering affordable housing across the UK and the Scottish Government per capita spending on affordable housing is more than three times higher than the UK Government. We have delivered more than 118,000 homes since 2007, and we remain committed to making available £3.5 billion for affordable housing over the current parliamentary session as part of our ambitious plans to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.”