Oxford residents who want to have their say on priorities for a new housing, homelessness and rough sleeping strategy have a week left to take part in public consultation.
Oxford City Council intends its new five-year strategy – which will replace the current Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 – to provide joined-up solutions to the housing and homelessness challenges facing Oxford.
As the housing authority for Oxford, the council is legally required to have a homelessness strategy and a strategy on rough sleeping. While there is no legal need for a housing strategy, there is a strong correlation between housing, homelessness and rough sleeping.
The consultation closes at midnight on Monday 02 August.
To help shape the development of the new strategy, the council has undertaken a review of housing and homelessness in Oxford. This provides an evidence base for the consultation, which will ask the public for their views on a new vision and five emerging priority areas for action. These are:
- building more affordable homes
- great homes for all
- housing for a zero carbon future
- preventing homelessness and adopting a rapid rehousing response
- ending rough sleeping
Key findings of the review
- Oxford is among the least affordable places for housing in the UK. The median house purchase price increased by 132% between 2002 and 2019. Median earnings for full-time employees increased by 59% in the same period. A typical monthly rent for a three-bed home in the bottom quarter of rents in the city is £1,300pm. The equivalent amount for England as a whole is £625.
- In 2019/20, almost 35% of households the council owed a homelessness duty were in either full-time or part-time work.
- The private rented sector has grown significantly in the last 20 years. Half of Oxford’s homes (49.3%) are now estimated to be rented from a private landlord.
- The council has duties to prevent and relieve homelessness under the Homelessness Reduction Act. In 2019/20, the main reason for triggering these duties was the ending of a private rented tenancy. Although this is true across England, rates are higher in Oxford – 42.1% of Oxford households who were owed a prevention duty faced homelessness for this reason, compared to the England average of 31.6%. People losing their private tenancy made up 22.7% of households owed a relief duty, compared to 12.3% for England as a whole.
- The number of people experiencing rough sleeping peaked at 61 in 2017 and has reduced in recent years, standing at 19 in 2020. Oxford still has comparatively high rates of people experiencing rough sleeping, despite successful bids for government funding and new services as part of a transformation in how the council tackles homelessness and rough sleeping.
People who want to take part can find more information and complete the consultation questionnaire.
People who are unable to complete the questionnaire online should phone 01865 252173 or email StrategyandEnabling@oxford.gov.uk.
The council will use the results of the consultation to update the review, vision and priorities and prepare a draft strategy for further consultation this autumn. The new housing and homelessness strategy will then be approved and implemented early next year.
Councillor Diko Blackings, the cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security and housing the homeless, said: “We know that Oxford residents care about tackling the housing and homelessness crisis in our city, and we want you to let us know what you think our priorities should be in the next five years. Our initial consultation ends at midnight on 2 August, so please have your say.”