In every region of the UK, homelessness is at critical levels. There is a national shortage of decent housing with almost 100,000 households living in temporary accommodation. We know that being forced to move into temporary accommodation – which often consists of inappropriate or poor living conditions - has a huge impact on people’s mental and physical health, their wellbeing, access to support services, often living away from their families and communities and can impact their employment prospects.
Whereas, living in a decent, safe, settled and affordable home is a first step for many people in helping them rebuild their lives and be able to start to create positive and meaningful futures and fulfilled lives.
And we know that marginalised groups of people are at an additional risk of living in inappropriate accommodation, not suitable for their specific needs. This includes people who are sleeping rough, have mental or physical health challenges or people with learning disability and autism.
Homelessness in Oxfordshire
Like other regions in the UK, Oxfordshire faces a housing crisis, creating and implementing strategies to prevent and tackle homelessness and meet local housing needs.
In 2018/19, in the Oxfordshire region
In 2020, in Oxford
So, we are delighted that two of Resonance’s homelessness property funds have recently received investment specifically enabling decent and affordable homes to be provided for people in the Oxfordshire region.
1. Resonance Supported Homes Fund (RSHF) – for people with learning disability and autism and in need of supported, person-centred housing to suit their needs – received £5 million investment from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) in early September.
In Oxfordshire alone, c11,100 adults have a learning disability and around 6,850 people are on the autistic spectrum***. Many of these people are either living in inappropriate housing or remain on long waiting lists with limited access to mainstream housing options.
This OCC investment will help to provide up to an additional 25 supported living homes for adults in Oxfordshire with care and support needs, enabling them to live fulfilling lives as participating members of their local community.
These properties are purchased with specific tenants in mind, ensuring properties are fit for purpose and can provide an environment for tenants to flourish.
Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Most people want to be supported to live within their communities, rather than in residential care, so this is great news for those adults in Oxfordshire with additional support needs who want a home of their own.
“As demand for supported living accommodation in the county grows and as people live longer, it is through programmes such as this one with RSHF that we are able to provide the support needed. We will empower people to live the lives they want to lead, in their communities, close to their friends and families, and with as much independence as possible.”
This investment will enable the fund to buy around 10 shared homes and 17 one-bed flats in and around the city, for around 30 people, providing them with stable housing for up to two years. Tenants will receive specialist support to sustain their tenancies and access mental health support and training and education opportunities.
On any given night, Oxford sees between 20-30 people sleeping rough; Oxford City Council is committed to providing settled homes for everyone. In 2020, following the pandemic, 355 of the city’s rough sleepers were housed in emergency accommodation under the government’s Everyone In initiative*. Since the easing of restrictions many of these people have been supported into more sustainable housing. However, as of August 2021, an average of 23 people were still experiencing rough sleeping in the city and in need of a safe and stable home****.
Councillor Diko Blackings, cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security and housing the homeless, said: “The gap between local housing allowance rates and actual rents makes it difficult for people to move on from temporary accommodation, supported housing or the streets. Investing in the NHPF2 means we can keep providing suitable and affordable homes for single people with experience of or at risk of rough sleeping. The NHPF2 is a cost-effective homelessness prevention option, with the additional benefit of being a social investment for the council.”
These investments in the same region are an example of how two councils are addressing two different and complex causes of homelessness and the need for decent, safe and affordable housing.
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