Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “Rising homelessness is a national issue and the latest street count figures show the devastating impact of the housing crisis and the government’s austerity measures on the streets of our city.
“The City Executive Board has just recommended that members approve our Housing and Homelessness Strategy, and full council will vote on this next week. The strategy sets out our ambitious plans for meeting housing need, preventing homelessness and meeting the needs of vulnerable people in the next three years.
“As part of this, we want to ensure that nobody has to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford. We have already initiated a City Conversation on rough sleeping, and we will be working with our partners, people and organisations with an interest in ending street homelessness to help achieve this vision.
“It will be a tough ask. Oxford is lucky to have a range of fantastic services dedicated to getting rough sleepers off the streets, and a caring and tolerant population which wants to help homeless people. All this support will be needed to help us to end rough sleeping in Oxford.
“But others also need to do more. One in five of the people sleeping on our streets come from other parts of Oxfordshire, and a further third from outside the county altogether. From April, the Homelessness Reduction Act will put stronger obligations on councils to support and accommodate all people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.”
Over the last two years, Oxford City Council has:
- maintained £1.4m of annual grants to Oxford’s homeless charities, funding a wide range of support services and accommodation, with a proposal to increase this by £200,000 in 2019/20 onwards
- committed £1.5m to keep the Simon House hostel open in the face of closure, and build a brand new facility for rough sleepers with complex needs in Cowley
- secured £790,000 of Government funding to help vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households at risk of homelessness
- allocated £15m to buy homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. In the 2018/19 budget, it is proposed to add a further £5m to this fund
- alongside partners, prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless in 2016/17
- as part of the City Council’s £1.4m annual grants programme, given £518,379 in 2016/17 to organisations that provide advice and money management support.