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6 February 2017, 05:56
The median time homeless families with children spend in temporary accommodation in Scotland has risen by almost 20% in the past two years, a new report shows.
A report by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland found families with children spent around one million days in local authority temporary homeless accommodation in 2015/16 out of a total provision of 3.8 million days.
The report states the median time families with children spent in homeless accommodation in 2016 was 20.1 weeks - more than four months - up from 17 weeks in 2014 and 17.8 weeks in 2015.
Households without children spent less time in temporary accommodation, with a median of 13.5 weeks.
Analysis found 13% of families with children were in temporary accommodation for longer than a year compared to 11% of households without children.
The number of homeless children in temporary accommodation in September 2016 was up 17% on the previous year to 5,751, according to Scottish Government figures.
Shelter Scotland's deputy director Alison Walton said children's health and education "tend to suffer'' the longer they spend in temporary accommodation.
She called for a new national strategy on homelessness in Scotland to prevent what is a "major badge of shame'' on the nation and asked the Scottish Government to support guidance on standards in temporary accommodation to avoid people living a ``miserable life in limbo''.
She said: "Losing your home is a traumatic experience in itself, but then having to spend increasingly long periods of time in temporary accommodation - with no guaranteed standard for the quality of your housing - just heaps more misery on people whose lives are already in crisis.
"Children in particular are adversely affected by homelessness and, as recent Scottish Government figures show, the problem is getting worse not better - with 826 more children in temporary accommodation last year than the year before.
"Just as worrying is the fact that families with children are now spending longer in temporary accommodation than in previous years, with the median length of stay having increased to more than 20 weeks. It is well known that children's health and education tend to suffer more the longer they are in temporary accommodation.
"At the heart of the problem is Scotland's housing crisis caused by an acute shortage of affordable homes. We recognise the Scottish Government's commitment to build 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021, but that falls short of the minimum of 12,000 a year we actually need.
"`If we do build enough affordable housing of the right sort in the right places, then people's stay in temporary accommodation can be cut dramatically, the profound impact of homelessness can be reduced and people can rebuild their lives sooner. We'd also save millions of pounds a year to the public purse.''
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "While progress is being made on overall homelessness, Scottish legislation ensures that households with children are placed in temporary accommodation while they wait for appropriate, sustainable permanent accommodation.
"Temporary accommodation is a key part of the safety net of the homelessness legislation and ensures all people have accommodation if they become homeless, but we want time in such accommodation to be as short as possible.
"We have committed to investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years and by ending Right to Buy we are also protecting up to 15,000 social homes for sale over the next ten years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.''