Oxfordshire’s city and district councils have won £790,000 of government funding to help tackle homelessness across the county.
The funding will be focused towards helping vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households at risk of homelessness.
Most importantly it will bring agencies together to better identify, understand and reach individuals at risk of homelessness as far ahead of crisis points as possible.
For each at-risk individual, the money will be used to understand what services they need and what works best for them to stop them from becoming homeless.
This work will focus on three areas:
- Targeted prevention and outreach work: officers from across the city and district councils actively seeking out those who may be at risk, and working with them to understand what could cause them to become homeless
- Resilience Services: providing a range of services, including financial and employment advice and mentoring, to encourage behavioural change
- Homeless Champions Network: homeless champions to work with key services, including health services and criminal justice, to assess individuals and help plan their discharge
The joint bid, led by Oxford City Council, was to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) £50m programme to prevent homelessness.
The funding will be split over 2017/18 and 2018/19 (£395,000 each year).
Oxford City Council is committed to maintaining its £1.4m of funding to the city’s homelessness charities, which funds a range of services to prevent homelessness.
The City Council’s 2017/18 budget also proposes an additional £10m to double a funding pot that purchases properties to house Oxford families in temporary accommodation.
Councillor Mike Rowley, Executive Board Member for Housing at Oxford City Council, said: “I am delighted by this additional funding. It will give a boost to all the hard work being undertaken across Oxfordshire to prevent homelessness, and fund new approaches to prevent the homelessness of some of our most vulnerable people, at the earliest possible opportunity before any crisis.”
Councillor Elaine Ware, Cabinet Member for Housing at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “This is great news for homeless people and those at risk. We are working very hard to address homeless in Oxfordshire so this additional funding will make a big difference to those under 35 who are in greatest need of help.”
Councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, Cabinet Member for Housing at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our housing and homelessness support has been recognised as among the best in the country. This additional funding will allow us to ensure we continue to provide support for those at risk of becoming homeless. Preventing homelessness will always be the better and more cost effective option than dealing with it and this money will ensure we can stay on top of the problem.”
Colin Dingwall, Cabinet Member for Housing and Shared Services at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Having somewhere to call home is a basic need that can get people back on their feet.
“This funding will be a major boost to our homelessness strategy that not only assists those who find themselves homeless but helps prevent it happening in the first place.”
Councillor John Donaldson, Lead Member for Housing at Cherwell District Council, said: “We are delighted with this funding, which brings a new and dynamic opportunity to work with our partners across the county to prevent homelessness and encourage vulnerable residents towards greater stability and opportunity.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “As we make this a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few – we need to look at why people are on the streets, what has gone wrong in their lives and how we can best help them. We need to put prevention first and find solutions for families and individuals before they end up sleeping rough.
“Oxfordshire is a great example of an area taking this approach forward. Their new network of prevention outreach workers will work with mental health providers to help those at risk of homelessness and their resilience hub will provide advice to those who need it most. All of this will help prevent homelessness – not just for one night - but for good.”
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This Government is committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our society and making sure our country works for everyone.
“Homelessness is less than half the 2003 peak, but we know that one person without a home is one too many.
“That’s why we’re changing the way we tackle homelessness and supporting ambitious programmes, such as those developed by Oxfordshire councils to reduce the number of people facing a homelessness crisis in the first place.”