Your Views matter...
A session was held on 14 July with Ambassadors to consult on Oxford City Council’s (OCC) proposed Housing, Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy. Thank you to the Ambassadors who took part in this session, as always your time and commitment is really appreciated.
Below are the group’s collective responses.
In your view, have we included the relevant context and evidence of housing and homelessness in Oxford in the review? Also, do you think there is other information that we can include to improve the review and evidence base?
We feel that the evidence does capture the needs of homelessness. Cases can be very complex and relationship building can be slow while trust needs to be built, so a real skills are needed for these cases. Rapid response could work for the majority and will be welcome, while a minority will need a light touch and will make a rapid response much more difficult.
There are also people we would consider homeless, although live as a temporary measure with a friend sofa surfing and not on the streets.
To focus on building housing for marginalised communities, as per the evidence that there is a greater number of the black community that are homeless and that this needs to be a priority.
Does the information provided in the review give a good level of insight to understand why people are homeless and what the challenges to overcome homelessness are?
It is comprehensive, although we don’t always feel that service areas are proactive enough to support clients.
There really needs to be monitoring of how the funding is being used and that it is reaching those that need it most.
Independent accommodation is better for ex drug users. So providing appropriate accommodation is paramount and ensuring they are not housed with other drug users. We feel that temporary accommodation can be a cause to worsen this condition.
Do you have any other comments on the Homelessness Review and Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy Evidence Base?
The documents refers to ages 35 – 44 and males from the black community being mostly effected by homelessness. We did not read any evidence of the causes of this and what measures are being put in place to then combat this.
Although OCC already use some private landlords, we still have some concern with the use of private landlords, with the high rent changes and then how this can be resolved long term.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with our draft vision?
Our draft vision for the strategy is: “By 2030, meeting Oxford’s need for more affordable housing, improving the standard of housing in the city while lowering its carbon impact, with services and partnerships that are focussed on preventing people losing their homes, rapidly rehouse those who become homeless, and ending rough sleeping.”
To what extent do you agree or disagree with ‘Building more affordable homes’ as a priority for our new strategy?
Areas of work that are likely to fall under 'Building more affordable homes' include:
Increasing the rate of affordable homes delivered in the city, in order tackle the unaffordability local people face in the Oxford housing market.
The delivery of the council’s ambitious house building programme through its company Oxford City Housing Ltd, in building nearly 1,900 new homes in the next 10 years, many of which will be charged at a lower “social rent”, and deliver the ‘Oxford Needs Homes’ campaign.
Building on our existing good relationships with housing associations to encourage their investment in the city, in order to scale up the delivery of affordable homes.
Working with our neighbouring districts to secure the homes outside the city to meet the unmet housing need of the people of Oxford.
We believe OCC/OCHL are building shared ownership homes, although I don’t remember there be a focus on this in the documentation. Although there is a greater need for Social Housing, there is still benefits for the provision of shared ownership accommodation.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with ‘Great homes for all’ as a priority for our new strategy?
Areas of work that are likely to fall under the priority 'Great homes for all' include:
Greater empowerment of council tenants, giving them more say on their homes and neighbourhoods, and greater ability to scrutinise and challenge the council as a landlord.
The implementation of a new locality based service delivery model, firmly rooted in the community, more responsive and assessable to the needs of clients
Improving the private rented sector by engaging with landlords and tenants, and implementing a comprehensive licensing scheme.
Would like to see greater work/communication with Tenancy Management staff at the point of a new tenant starting their tenancy. Some tenants may require as long as a 3 month settling in period. The duty, which is primary to the TMO is to ensure all the checks are being carried out and in good working order prior to signing the tenancy agreement with the client.
The documents referred to the majority of homelessness being caused by those leaving/tenancies ending on private rented properties. Would be helpful to get a better understanding of theses causes, what the notice periods are and whether private landlords are adhering to the statutory notice periods.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with ‘Housing for a zero carbon future’ as a priority for our new strategy?
Areas of work that are likely to fall under 'Housing for a zero carbon future' include:
Rollout of an ambitious investment programme in the council’s housing stock, retrofitting and in some cases rebuilding our homes to ensure they meet the standards required to meet the climate crisis.
Ensure high standards of energy efficiency and build quality for new developments, in particular those delivered by OCHL.
Working to improve energy ratings in the private rented sector.
We are not confident that in reality there is enough resource for a zero carbon future, due to standards of the housing that has already been built and questions how some of these builds (even after retrofitting) can truly support this agenda.
There also needs to be a focus on air quality and noise pollution which are at high levels in Oxford. These factors will naturally have an impact on the health of the residents particularly younger generations/our children.
We would like to see a focus on new house building being designed to make better use of having rain water conservation measures. There is becoming a greater focus on this need and it is unclear whether this is now a consideration.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with ‘Preventing homelessness and adopting a rapid rehousing response’ as a priority for our new Areas of work that are likely to fall under 'Preventing homelessness and adopting a rapid rehousing response' include:
Putting the prevention of homelessness at the heart of all Council services, including the reconfiguration of the City Council’s housing services to support more people to stay in their homes. Ensuring every opportunity is taken across the organisation to prevent homelessness.
Delivering services and building partnerships that tackle the trauma of homelessness, repeat homelessness and avoiding the need to be rehoused, through earlier and pre-emptive interventions. Supporting people in both the social and private sector to sustain their tenancies, using data and networks to identify those in greatest need, with the ability to deliver suitable, effective support.
A rapid rehousing/ housing-led response to all forms of homelessness, so that homeless people can move to a stable and suitable home quickly, including minimising the use of temporary accommodation, and enabling effective access for homelessness households to affordable social housing and the private rented sector.
Generally agree, although not confident that homelessness can be completely eradicated. Due to complex needs I struggle to see how there can ‘always’ be a rapid response. Each case must treated as an individual.
Need a greater focus on money management and how internal budgets are balanced ‘if’ OCC budget is then being used to pay of vulnerable people’s debts.
Document referred to there being more holistic support although it was not clear how this would work and who would be involved. The varied and specific care needed to address each group, such as ex drug users and those leaving prison as an example.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with ‘Ending rough sleeping’ as a priority for our new strategy?
Areas of work that are likely to fall under 'Ending rough sleeping' include:
Seek to end the need for anyone to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford by 2024 (in line with national objectives).
Establish a new countywide approach to preventing and relieving rough sleeping, with new jointly commissioned arrangements across local government, voluntary sector partners and health in Oxfordshire.
Enable a housing-led approach to rough sleeping, rapidly moving people on from the street to a new settled home, with more use of flexible support and less use of interim accommodation.
Do you have any other comments on the emerging priorities?
Yes, No……. If you answered 'yes' please provide further details
We feel that we have captured everything above.