Successful funding bids to government mean that Oxford City Council is committing an extra £1.3 million in new funding to tackle rough sleeping in the city.
These new funding commitments mean the council will spend an additional £1,344,700 on preventing and reducing rough sleeping – on top of the £1.75 million it had already budgeted to provide up to 219 beds for people experiencing homelessness in 2019/20.
The new funding includes more than £850,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) under its Rapid Rehousing Pathway (RRP) programme.
The MHCLG has awarded the council £727,400 to transform the former jobcentre in Floyds Row into an assessment hub and shelter for up to 60 people experiencing homelessness or at risk of rough sleeping.
Other RRP funding awarded to the council will allow better support for people as they move from the street to long term and sustainable housing.
This comprises £99,000 for navigators working with long term rough sleepers and people who have returned to rough sleeping after being accommodated, and £31,300 for floating support to help people sustain new social tenancies as they leave homelessness behind.
The MHCLG award comes on top of £387,000 the council has already committed to the Floyds Row project.
In addition, Public Health England has also agreed to give the council £100,000 to provide alcohol treatment services in the Floyds Row assessment hub.
The process of converting Floyds Row is already underway. Construction work will start in June with the first services expected to open in October.
Initially, Floyds Row will offer a daytime support and assessment centre for rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness – providing support with drug, alcohol and housing issues. It will also provide a winterlong emergency shelter that will be available to any rough sleeper, whether or not they have a local connection or recourse to public funds.
Floyds Row is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019, when it will include a range of other accommodation with the aim of moving people more quickly off the streets and into sustainable housing.
It is expected that 20 spaces will be temporary shelter of up to a week for people whose needs are being assessed, with another 20 beds reserved for people who have been assessed and are engaging with services to find suitable move on accommodation.
Services can find it difficult to engage with long term rough sleepers and those who repeatedly return to the streets because of complex needs that include unmet mental health needs and drug or alcohol misuse. The navigator service is already working with these rough sleepers and is being provided by St Mungo’s, which operates the council’s outreach service (OxSPOT).
Stephen Clarke, Head of Housing Services, said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford, and we’re very pleased to have secured funding from the MHCLG and Public Health England to help people off the streets and to rebuild their lives. Together with our existing commitments, the extra government funding means we’ll be spending over £3 million on helping people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Oxford. This should make a real difference.”