A Scottish council has announced plans to bring up to 200 empty homes back into use to house refugees fleeing Ukraine.
North Lanarkshire Council said on Monday it would use £5 million of Scottish Government funding to reinstate the homes in high rise towers in Coatbridge and Wishaw “to a high standard”.
The towers, High Coats in Coatbridge and Birkshaw in Wishaw, were slated for demolition as part of a council strategy, but the council hopes their refurbishment – with the first expected to be complete in six weeks – will see some refugees staying in hotels able to live in their own homes.
Council leader Jordan Linden said: “The people escaping conflict in Ukraine face the most unimaginable circumstances. Across Scotland, so many have welcomed Ukrainian people into their homes and communities, and I am proud that we can play a leading role in the national effort by providing a large number of homes here in North Lanarkshire.
“I know that the people of North Lanarkshire will welcome those who face such an uncertain time with their usual warmth and generosity, and I am pleased that we can move quickly to assist.
“Already, council staff are working with partners to provide support and advice to people from Ukraine in hotel accommodation, and that extensive work will continue when these homes are occupied.
“As Scotland’s largest council landlord, we are well-placed to deliver the reinstatement of these homes and I look forward to welcoming people over the coming weeks.”
Following the reinstatement of the first homes, the programme will expand in “the coming months” according to the council, with capacity for up to 200 homes.
Neil Gray, who serves as the Scottish Government’s minister for Ukrainian refugees, welcomed the move.
“We appreciate this contribution from North Lanarkshire Council. These homes will play a vital role in providing longer term accommodation and support to displaced people from Ukraine,” he said.
“The council is to be commended for recognising the importance of assisting national efforts to home thousands of people fleeing the illegal war in Ukraine.
“The Scottish Government and partners are providing practical support and a welcome to more than 4,500 displaced people through our super sponsor scheme.
“Ensuring we have a supply of safe, secure homes in partnership with councils, housing partners and individual host volunteers is a vital part of this work, and we are grateful to everyone who is supporting this.”
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