Following Oxford City Council’s successful funding bid to the Government’s new Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) to prevent and reduce rough sleeping this winter, it has now been provisionally awarded a further £511,000 for the next financial year.
In June 2018, Oxford City Council secured £503,000 of RSI funding to cover the 2018-19 period. While some elements of the City Council’s £934,000 bid for 2019-20 were not awarded, the additional funding received will enable the council to expand existing service provision to tackle rough sleeping and extend it at least until 2020. It will also enable the council to offer some support for people with no local connection to Oxford who are not currently eligible for the homeless pathway.
At least 30 additional bed spaces will be provided for rough sleepers, and a new multi-agency service hub in the city centre will provide an integrated assessment and housing advice service, with other agencies providing support – such as mental health or substance misuse services. The hub will be open to rough sleepers working with our services and opens later this month.
Frontline service delivery will be strengthened with an extra three workers in the Oxford Street Population Outreach Team (OxSPOT), funded by the council and run by St Mungo’s. OxSPOT verifies rough sleepers and helps them to access emergency accommodation and support services – with around 300 people helped off the street and 100 people prevented from sleeping on the street per annum.
The expansion of accommodation units available over the next 18 months includes ten additional sit up places at O’Hanlon House, seven beds for clients using substance abuse rehabilitation services and a house with five move-on housing beds. Over this coming winter there will also be an additional fourteen temporary beds for clients without a local connection.
Other projects in the pipeline include the development of winter shelter services in the districts, the provision of a women only project and a partnership with an Oxford college to provide move on accommodation for those without a local connection, including EEA nationals.
While some elements of the above 2019-20 programme might change slightly, as not all the funds requested were awarded, the funds will have a significant impact.
Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader and Board Member for Leisure and Housing, said: “Oxford City Council has a clearly stated ambition to ensure that nobody has to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford. We’re pleased to have secured provisionally a further year’s funding for the additional measures we are already putting into place for this winter.
“The extra accommodation and support will make a real difference in tackling rough sleeping in Oxford. In particular, it will allow us to provide more support to people with no local connection to Oxford who aren’t currently eligible for the homeless pathway, over this coming winter period.
“Nevertheless, it is important to note that these additional resources are time-limited and won’t in themselves solve what is a national crisis of homelessness and rough sleeping.”
The £45 million RSI Grant pot for 2019-20, which is targeted at councils with high levels of rough sleeping, is administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The award of £511,000 to Oxford City Council for 2019-20 is conditional on successful delivery of the funded programme for 2018-19.
More information about what the council does to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping is at www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness.