Homelessness: key points


  • Someone is considered homeless if they do not have access to permanent accommodation which it is reasonable for them to occupy.

  • Many homeless people in Scotland live in temporary accommodation, and a small proportion sleep rough.

  • The causes of homelessness are complex. They usually include a combination of structural factors (such as poverty and lack of affordable housing) and individual vulnerabilities (such as relationship difficulties, mental health problems, or substance use).

  • Poor health can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness. Homelessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health, and higher mortality rates.

  • Homeless people are much less likely to be registered with a GP and more likely to go to emergency services than the wider population.


Acknowledgement: ScotPHO would like to acknowledge the contribution of Emily Tweed and Beth Reid who wrote the initial version of this section.


Section updates:

  • This section was updated on 15th September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end March 2018.