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Joint leaders’ statement to mark World Homelessness Day – 10 October

The following is a joint statement by the leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, Cllrs Sue Cooper and Emily Smith to mark World Homelessness Day on 10 October:

“Sunday is World Homelessness Day which is when attention is drawn to those who are less fortunate than most of us, those who do not have somewhere they feel safe and secure that they can call home.

“Homelessness could impact any of us, whether it is due to a landlord issuing an unexpected notice to leave or a relationship breakdown or escaping the threat of domestic abuse. The councils’ housing needs team identifies those at risk of homelessness and works closely with them helping them remain safely at home or securing them suitable alternative accommodation.  The impact of COVID-19 means the councils are working harder than ever to support residents at risk of homelessness. 

“The housing needs team understands that targeted and personalised early intervention maximises the opportunity to avoid homelessness.

“Every year at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, the housing needs team helps prevent hundreds of households from becoming homeless. [See figures below]

2020/21 –  Percentage of households at risk of homelessness*  which were successfully prevented from becoming homeless:

England                                   59%

South East                               56%

South Oxfordshire                   75%

Vale of White Horse                 78%

“The councils are committed to ending rough sleeping in the districts. They work closely with our council partners, health and care agencies, housing and support providers and voluntary agencies to develop a new housing-led approach in Oxfordshire. An example of this is the successful Housing First project operating in South and Vale.  Housing First provides former rough sleepers rapid access to long-term accommodation where they receive intensive support from the start of their tenancy.

“This approach differs from the traditional ‘pathway model’. This is where rough sleepers have to prove they are tenancy-ready before progressing from emergency accommodation to supported accommodation before they can receive an offer of long-term accommodation. This can be unsettling and difficult to manage for people who often have multiple complex needs. Offering former rough sleepers the stability of a long-term home with tailored support can have a transformative effect on people’s lives and end the cycle of homelessness.”

* Prevention duty

The councils have a duty to provide advice and assistance if people are:

  • eligible for assistance which means you have the right to claim benefits and housing in the UK
  • at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days (8 weeks)

This prevention duty means that the councils must take reasonable steps to help prevent people from becoming homeless. This duty last for 56 days.