A MAJOR initiative to combat homelessness in Barrhead and Neilston has been launched.

Barrhead Housing Association (BHA) has appointed Hilary Smith in a specially-funded role to identify tenants who may be at risk of losing their homes and ending up on the street.

During the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 16 months, a growing number of people of all ages have fallen into rent arrears as their income has dropped.
People made homeless could also be fleeing domestic violence or have mental health issues.

Hilary took over the new role of Tenancy Sustainment Officer earlier this month, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

BHA has more than 950 properties in the town and neighbouring Neilston.
Hilary said: “There is a wider range of people who are finding themselves homeless than in the past.

“We try to help our tenants by identifying areas where they are struggling. That could be financially or from the break-up of a relationship.

“We also want people to feel that they can contact us if they are having problems, because the support is there.”

One of Hilary’s tasks will be to make the Barrhead and Neilston communities more aware of the homelessness issue.

She plans to develop an education package for BHA tenants and local schools.
Those at risk of rent arrears and losing their homes will get expert benefits advice to make sure they are claiming what they are due.

There will also be help for cash-strapped tenants, with carpets and furniture being provided for their homes.

Hilary added: “You tend to find that people who have been homeless once tend to get caught in that trap.

“Even when they get a property, they don’t always have the support and back-up that they need.

“People can find themselves homeless for all sorts of reasons, usually through no fault of their own.

“For example, a tenant could have been served with a final notice by a landlord who wants to sell the property.

“I also want to make sure people who have been homeless in the past don’t end up in the same situation again.”

For more information, call BHA on 0141 881 0638 or email enquiries@barrheadha.org.