Housing-health link being debated
Wednesday 9th October 2013, 12:11AM BST.
The link between bad housing and poor health is being explored at a homelessness conference.
Organised by the charity Shelter, the event in Edinburgh brings together key figures including the NHS director of public health science Dr Andrew Fraser and housing minister Margaret Burgess.
Shelter director Graeme Brown said: ” Every day at Shelter Scotland we hear of families and individuals facing the tragedy of homelessness or living, often with young children, in damp, cold and sometimes dangerous housing.
“Addressing such housing inequality and the impact it has on health and life chances of people in Scotland is a key factor towards building a fairer society.
“The first step towards helping those who are homeless, threatened with homelessness or living in bad housing must be an increase in the availability of safe, secure and affordable homes.”
The country needs at least 10,000 affordable homes each year to meet demand, he said.
The charity pointed to research showing that 70% of long-term homeless people show medical symptoms of malnutrition.
Scottish Government figures show that 52% of the country’s social housing falls beneath the new Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
Dr Fraser said: ” A roof over your head is a fundamental human need, a basic requirement for reasonable health and well-being and security.
“A decent home for young people to grow up is also a reasonable expectation for all children in a wealthy country like Scotland, yet it appears still to be beyond the reach of around 36,000 families in this country.
“With homelessness and poor housing comes a spectrum of associated health problems and challenges of basic daily living.
“The likelihood of experiencing increasingly poor housing is on a gradient that goes hand-in-hand with poor health and well-being.
“Legislation marks a milestone for measures to eradicate homelessness in Scotland, but we must go further to ensure that implementation is sustained.”
Ms Burgess said: “We recognise that preventing homelessness is about more than providing housing and reducing housing inequality requires partners across all sectors to work together around issues such as addressing health needs.”