SCOTLAND’S largest housing, care and property management group has provided more than 100 empty homes to local authorities as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Last month Wheatley announced its plans to hand over the empty properties to Scottish councils in order to help house homeless people affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Since then the firm has allocated 81 empty homes to Glasgow City Council and 26 to Dumfries and Galloway Council. A further nine will be made available to Edinburgh City Council next week.

Martin Armstrong, chief executive of Wheatley, said more properties will be provided to West Dunbartonshire Council and West Lothian Council soon.

He said: “We are doing all we can to work with our local authority partners to help the most vulnerable people in society during these unprecedented times.”

In February, Wheatley handed over 100 homes to Housing First, a scheme which was set up to help tackle rough sleeping.

Meanwhile the company has introduced new measures to address to impact of Covid-19 on the people living in the 93,000 homes it owns and manages.

Wheatley’s six registered social landlords – GHA, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership, Dunedin Canmore, Cube, West Lothian Housing Partnership and Barony – are able to offer only a restricted range of services during the current crisis. But Wheatley’s 500 housing staff, located all around Scotland, have been fully set up to work from home. The team can now stay in contact with tenants, particularly elderly and vulnerable ones, by phone, text or online.

The firm’s IT staff have received praise for their efforts to set up a 24/7 virtual call centre by equipping all phone advisers who are normally based in Glasgow and Dumfries.

Armstrong said: “Like all other parts of the group, our fantastic IT staff have pulled out all the stops to ensure our customers continue to receive the best services possible.

The praise was also extended to Wheatley’s neighbourhood environmental teams (NETs) who are working to provide essential services to residents during the pandemic. The services range from fire-safety patrols to multi-storey block cleaning and bulk uplifts.

Armstrong also praised the company’s repairs teams and care staff, many of whom have been issued with personal protection equipment and fresh health and safety guidance to enable them to continue providing emergency and essential services.

He said: “They are a credit to Wheatley and the communities they serve across Scotland, as are all of their housing, care, property management and business support colleagues, who are doing an incredible job in the most difficult of circumstances.”

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