The new homelessness prevention strategy, the first of its kind, was approved by the county council’s Cabinet on 19 October and will bring yet more focus and co-operation across all organisations.
At the heart of the strategy is both rapid response when someone becomes at risk, and a focus on individual needs and circumstances to provide greater levels of support. Funding of £3.8 million will contribute to the delivery of the strategy.
Wherever possible, it is proposed to keep people in their local area where long term housing solutions can be found – rather than needing to travel to Oxford for accommodation and support services.
Cllr Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “There has been a huge amount of goodwill and practical co-operation from the county council as a provider of adult social care, the district councils in their crucial role as housing authorities, and the NHS in putting this plan together.
“This strategy builds on extensive existing work by all involved and will further deepen the way we work together. We all want to do everything in our power to prevent homelessness in Oxfordshire, and this revised approach will enable us to critically examine ways we can increase support. I'm pleased to have discussed this issue with my Cabinet colleagues at the county council on 19 October.”
Plans also include providing access to advocacy and informal support from peer mentors, a range of safe, dignified provision for people coming directly from the streets, and flexible accommodation that can be adapted for single people or couples. Additionally, the strategy will aim to create greater support for more vulnerable rough sleepers, such as women and those from LGBTQ+ communities.
As many individuals stay far longer in what is intended as transitory, supported housing, the strategy proposes a new housing led model to help eradicate supported housing where people often get ‘stuck’. This includes a Housing First approach, which aims to deliver up to 50 units per year of self-contained accommodation with intensive support.
Increased oversight and shared responsibility between organisations and a case-management approach to end people’s homelessness is central to the proposals. This will be based on a plan produced together with individuals and centred on their specific needs and aspirations. There are also proposals to ensure that rents are manageable so that people are supported to maintain or return to work.