How we help homeless families
Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, but we are committed to preventing and reducing all types of homelessness.
Providing affordable and settled housing options is a key part of this. This includes spending £20 million on buying properties as accommodation for homeless families and we have plans to deliver more than 500 genuinely affordable homes over the next few years - 354 of these will be homes at social rent as part of the new Barton Park development.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 – which became law in April 2018 – means we have legal duties to prevent and relieve homelessness. For families who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, our housing options service provides advice, assistance and, where necessary, temporary accommodation.
Last year nearly 100 households a month came to us for help under the Homelessness Reduction Act and we successfully prevented or ended homelessness for 458 of the 651 households we owed a duty to – more than 70 percent of households. This included 133 households who were helped into private rented accommodation though our Home Choice scheme.
Our work to prevent family homelessness goes far beyond providing accommodation. It can include negotiating with landlords, providing budgeting support and coaching, helping people into work, to apply for benefits or access other sources of temporary financial support.
We give grants of more than £500,000 a year to Oxford’s independent advice centres to help people with issues like benefits, debt and money management. Our own welfare reform team supports residents affected by benefit cuts to sustain their tenancies, and our rent guarantee scheme offers guaranteed rent and tenancy management support to landlords while it works with tenants to improve their incomes.
Families in temporary accommodation
In 2004, the number of otherwise homeless Oxford families in temporary accommodation stood at 1,000. At the end of October 2019 there were just 92 households in temporary accommodation - a sharp contrast to the national trend, which has seen a big increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation since March 2011. None of these 92 households were accommodated in bed and breakfast.