Statement on coronavirus and sleeping rough

Published: Tuesday, 31st March 2020

In response to media reports that a man was told to sleep on the streets before he could get help, an Oxford City Council spokesperson said:

“There is never a requirement for anyone to sleep rough before they can be placed into temporary accommodation or supported housing, and we certainly did not advise this young man that he would have to sleep on the streets. Rather we immediately connected him with South Oxfordshire District Council which offered him emergency accommodation before the weekend.

“Our homelessness team have been working flat out and in the most challenging circumstances to meet the very significant new challenges thrown up by the coronavirus, including government direction to rehouse all rough sleepers and people living in shared hostel spaces by the end of last week. We have been working with Public Health England, Thames Valley Police, Turning Point, St Mungo’s and others to reconfigure support services and find suitable accommodation.

"This is to provide safe accommodation for some of Oxford’s most vulnerable people, ensure safe social distancing is practised and self-isolation is possible for those showing symptoms. By the close of business on Friday we had secured 61 hotel rooms and by the end of this week expect to have 122 beds in hotels and other self-contained accommodation – including specific, separate provision for people with coronavirus and at high risk of infection. It is a task we are committed to carrying out as we believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford.”