Housing Options is an information and advice process that councils use when someone approaches them with a housing problem. It aims to prevent homelessness wherever possible and since its introduction, there has been a fall in homelessness applications.
The service focuses on people's personal circumstances, helping them to explore all options including council housing, housing association homes and private rented accommodation. It can also provide support for underlying issues that can underpin housing problems such as debt, family breakup and mental health problems.
This means that, rather than just making a homeless application, housing officers can work with other services to help people before they reach crisis point.
Why the Housing Options approach was introduced
The aim of the Housing Options approach is to help meet the 2012 target that 'all those assessed as unintentionally homeless will be entitled to settled accommodation as a legal right'.
We created the Scottish Housing Options funding programme to help councils make the necessary changes, which included establishing five regional knowledge sharing 'Hubs' in autumn 2010.
Housing Options Hubs
Housing Options Hubs bring together neighbouring councils in Scotland to promote, develop and share information and best practice on the prevention of homelessness.
Hubs are council-led but membership can include other organisations (for example, third sector agencies and social landlords) who work in partnership to deliver services.
The Hubs are:
- Ayrshire & South: North Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde and South Ayrshire
- Edinburgh, Lothians & Borders: City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Falkirk, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian
- North & Islands: Highland, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Eilean Siar, Moray, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands
- Tayside, Fife & Central: Perth & Kinross, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, Stirling and Fife
- West: East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire. Glasgow Housing Association is also a member.
We provided the Hubs with £950,000 between 2010 and 2015 and a further £150,000 in 2016 to help them to continue developing their approach to homeless prevention.
We have also funded national co-ordinators through the most recent round of funding of the Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme to help the Hubs develop the Housing Options approach.
National co-ordinators highlight good practice and promote information sharing across policy areas that are important to tackling and preventing homelessness in Scotland. These include employability, service user involvement, social networks and furniture re-use.
Contact details for National co-ordinators:
Scottish Homelessness Involvement and Empowerment Network (SHIEN) Glasgow Homelessness Network, Unit 16a, Adelphi Centre, 12 Commercial Road, Glasgow, G5 0PQ, tel: 0141 420 7272
Scottish Homelessness & Employability Network (SHEN) c/o Homeless Action Scotland, Stanhope House, 12 Stanhope Place, Edinburgh, EH12 5HH, tel: 0131 337 8243
Our Housing Options Guidance sets out the principles on which any effective Housing Options service should be based, as well as the outcomes it should aim to achieve.
Housing Options evaluation
The Hubs were evaluated in 2012. The evaluation found that the Hubs have helped to advance the Housing Options approach and helped councils work together and share best practice.
- evaluation of the Local Authority Housing Hubs Approach report
- research findings from the Local Authority Housing Hubs Approach report
- best practice checklist for organisers and hub members
The positive impact of the Hubs was also noted in the Infrastructure and Capital Investment (ICI) Committee report into the 2012 Homelessness Commitment.