MORE mental health support is vital to stop a predicted 50 per cent increase in Scotland’s homelessness problem, according to expert organisations.

Yesterday the charity Crisis said the “worst forms” of homelessness, including rough sleeping, sofa surfing and the use of squats and refuges, will rise dramatically within the next 25 years without a change in policy.

The Scottish Government has committed to creating 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

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Yesterday expert agencies told The National more housing will not solve the problem alone and major action on mental health is needed, along with reform in social care, youth support and the benefits system.

Graham Steven of Glasgow City Mission, which runs a range of services for homeless people, said: “A predicted 53 per cent rise in homelessness should shock and appal us as nation.

“We are pleased to see commitments to build more homes, however attention must be paid to ensure vulnerable people can access these and that vital support is put in place for people to sustain their tenancies including physical and mental health support, access to recovery programmes and a welfare system that takes account of people with multiple and complex needs.

“Too often vulnerable people are fobbed off and told’ the computer says no’ and this lack of flexibility and understanding means too many people are falling through the cracks and ending up back on the streets reliant on help from charities.”

Gavin Yates, chief executive of Homeless Action Scotland, said he frequently dealt with cases of mothers and children without accommodation due to family breakdown during his time as a councillor in Fife.

Raising concerns about the number of young people who “move from one set of friends to another” over problems with parents, he said: “All forms of homelessness are an abomination. They represent what is a stain on Scottish society.

“We have seen in recent times an increase in particularly rough sleeping in our major cities. People are dying on the streets.

“If local authorities and housing associations started building tens of thousands of houses there would still be an issue with homelessness. We need a holistic approach.

“It’s about health and social care, it’s about domestic violence and mental health. Unless all those issues are tackled together there will still be significant numbers of people who will fall through the cracks.”

Figures in June revealed health boards missing mental health waiting time targets for more than a quarter of adult patients and one in six children and young people.

Yates said: “It’s not helpful when people are waiting on average in some health board areas for six months or longer for their assessment.”

The comments came as the prototype of accommodation for a village for homeless people was unveiled in Edinburgh.

The brainchild of Social Bite sandwich chain founder Josh Littlejohn, the 1.5 acre Granton facility is expected to be operational before Christmas in partnership with the Cyrenians charity.

The ten two-bedroom homes and a communal building aim to provide an alternative to a “broken temporary accommodation system”.

Littlejohn said: “It could be a blueprint for how social enterprise, charity, council and corporates work together on a solution that makes a difference.”

The Scottish Association for Mental Health declined to comment but, responding to the Crisis report, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said Scottish Government priorities include helping those “with more complex needs... for whom simply providing accommodation is not always enough”.