Council announces new homelessness initiative

Image Description: A person crossing the street in a dimly lit photo. 

Oxfordshire County Council and the county’s five district councils have all agreed to work with homelessness charity Crisis in transforming their approach to preventing and ending homelessness.

A housing-led response to the issue will be developed in conjunction with the charity. This is an approach that focuses on getting people who are homeless into their own homes as quickly as possible and giving them the support they need to make maintaining a tenancy work.

This approach aims to minimise both the time people spend in temporary accommodation and the number of moves they have to make before getting their permanent home.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, commented that the commitment to ending homelessness was encouraging, and that this was a long-term strategy to help those suffering homelessness in Oxford.

“We are hugely encouraged by the commitment shown across Oxfordshire in preventing and ending homelessness. This is not a quick fix but instead a bold, long-term strategy developed with the help of people in Oxfordshire who have experienced the trauma of homelessness and those who have worked tirelessly to tackle it.”

With significantly more focus on preventing people being made homeless, it will require improved system-wide governance of homelessness services across Oxfordshire and service providers working collaboratively to achieve the intended results. 

Oxfordshire benefits from a diverse range of homelessness services and to ensure no one ‘drops off the radar’ a centrally held ‘By Name’ list will be created. As well as improving continuity, it will reduce the need for people to explain their background multiple times, thereby reducing the impact of trauma and helping each person feel valued as an individual.

The councils’ agreement to the approach accompanies the publication of a feasibility study, commissioned by Crisis and drawing on the expertise of people who have experienced homelessness in Oxfordshire, as well as those working in the local homelessness sector. It has found that a housing-led approach could deliver a reduction in homelessness in Oxfordshire within a comparable financial footprint to the current system.

On this, Paul Leo, Director of Housing for Oxford City Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Strategic Homelessness Steering Group, remarked: 

“We welcome the publication of this study, which will be instrumental in helping us to achieve our ambition of preventing homelessness across Oxfordshire and I am delighted that all of the Oxfordshire councils have committed to work together to implement its recommendations.”


Image Credit: Iona Shen