Protesters target Edinburgh “slum” hostel

Abbots house

Abbots House Hotel in Leith 

Outrage at sub-standard accommodation homeless families are being forced to endure 

17th January 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Protests took place against a “slum” hostel in Edinburgh.

Dozens of families joined a demonstration to highlight the plight faced by those having to live in the Abbots House Hotel in Leith.

City of Edinburgh Council uses the facility to accommodate emergency homeless in the city.

But many complain the bed and breakfast set-up is dingy, damp and dangerous and a “nightmare” for anyone with children.

The protest was organised by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP).

Many families are being forced into the facility because rent increases have forced them out of the private rented sector, making them homeless.

Mum-of-three Ann Wedderburn was forced to move to the Abbots House Hotel from a private flat after falling into rent arrears due to a benefit cut.

Ann and her three children were forced to sleep in the same room, which had a double bed and two singles. She claimed there were no laundry facilities or fridges and said occupants of the 70 rooms had access to only one filthy microwave.

Ann told how the family had to share a bathroom at the end of a corridor with other guests – many of them single men.

A spokesman for the ECAP said: “Instead of building homes to solve the housing crisis once and for all, the council persist in funding private profit through public money against public interest.

“The housing crisis has seen Edinburgh council paying out £120,000 a week to hostels and B&Bs. While the numbers of homeless continue to grow, Edinburgh council has been using rotten hostels and B&Bs as temporary accommodation.

“Whole families are being put in one room – dirty and dilapidated rooms, filthy mattresses, disgusting shared bathrooms and toilets with no locks.

“We say to City of Edinburgh Council – stop putting families in homeless bed and breakfasts. Take immediate action to drastically improve the appalling conditions in Abbots House and other homeless B&Bs like Almond House.

“Provide more genuine social housing for rent so no one has to stay in homeless B&Bs.”

City of Edinburgh Council’s housing and economy convener Councillor Gavin Barrie said: “Our homelessness services are facing unprecedented pressures, with demand for both permanent and temporary accommodation exceeding supply. We have appointed a cross party homelessness task force to tackle this issue and they met for the first time at the end of last year.

“A number of priorities and outcomes, including families and 16 and 17 year olds no longer being accommodated in bed and breakfast accommodation by June 2018, will be considered by councillors at the Housing and Economy Committee on 18 January.

“We are also taking action to build 10,000 affordable homes in the next five years and 20,000 over ten next 10 years to assist in tackling the current chronic shortage of housing for those on low and middle incomes. These will also include social housing to alleviate pressures on this market going forward.”