Ex-service men and women are now being given a direct and priority route into affordable housing by Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP).
DGHP’s Board members have decided to ring fence a percentage of the company’s annual lets especially for Armed Forces personnel.
Chairman Billy Lockhart said: “Through exploring this issue, we identified that for local ex-service men and women, getting access to housing was proving extremely problematic.
“We are very proud of this initiative and it is one we are very pleased to support as we know it will make a real difference to those ex-service personnel who are struggling to find a home in Dumfries and Galloway when they leave the Forces.
“We have gone one step further than other organisations who offer these men and women extra points on their waiting lists. We have taken the ground-breaking step of committing a percentage of our lets to those looking for a home from the armed forces.
Ex-service men and women previously had to come through the homeless route to access housing.The new policy will help many ex-Forces personnel by giving them a much easier and clearer route into housing.
Labour Councillor Archie Dryburgh, who is also Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Armed Forces Champion, has played a key part in bringing this project to this stage.
He added: “This initiative is one which will be welcomed by many people. Being an ex-serviceman myself I know only too well the difficulties faced when you leave the forces and are looking for somewhere to live. Most ex-service personnel end up either living with friends or family or are placed in temporary accommodation and can wait for long periods before they are offered a home.
“This change to DGHP’s policy will make a real difference for those affected and I must congratulate the Board on taking this decision to support these men and women.
“I have been working with DGHP to develop this and I believe this will help many people get a much more direct route into affordable housing after they return from serving for their country.
Jayne Moore, Director of Housing Services, added: “This is a very emotive topic and it is one in which we have had so much support for from our colleagues, Board and District Management Committee members.
“The specific allocation of a percentage of our lets to the Armed Forces will, in most cases, eliminate the need for these personnel to apply to the Council as homeless before they could be referred to us.
“We are already looking to identify anyone on our current waiting list who could benefit from this change and we look forward to handing over the keys to their home them in the not so distant future.”
Photograph shows: Launching the changes to DGHP’s new policy at Nunfield House in Dumfries are (in the front centre) Lieutenant Colonel A J Fitzpatrick; Labour Councillor Archie Dryburgh and DGHP Chairman Billy Lockhart along with representatives from the Royal British Legion (Scotland), SSAFA Armed Forces Help, DGHP and personnel from the 6th Batallion Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at the TA in Dumfries.