Oxford City Council have said this morning that they will be offering temporary accommodation for rough sleepers due to the severe weather forecast over the coming weekend.
This accommodation will be in the form of individual rooms, as the City Council has decided that shared sleeping spaces would prove too much of a safety risk in the midst of a national lockdown due to COVID-19.
Initially, this provision will last for the duration of this weekend, from the 22nd to the 25th (Friday to Monday) of January. Rough sleepers will be contacted where possible by outreach teams, or can alternatively present themselves at O’Hanlon House between 11pm and midnight.
The accommodation is available to all who experience rough sleeping in Oxford, irrespective of whether they have the right to residency in the UK, or have turned down the offer of other accommodation previously. The Council noted that they have been providing shelter to the homeless since the beginning of the pandemic and that as such those seeking shelter now are likely to have turned down accommodation offers before, or be newly homeless.
One of the venues is suitable for dogs, while kennels can be arranged in advance although not on the night itself.
In their statement, Oxford City Council reiterated its long-standing commitment to ending rough sleeping, estimating that there will be a 44% increase in spending in this area in their 2021/22 budget compared to 2019/20, the final annual budget before the pandemic struck.
Councillor Mike Rowley, cabinet member for affordable housing and housing the homeless, said: “The current forecast is for freezing overnight temperatures all weekend. We’re committed to doing what we can to protect vulnerable homeless people during this pandemic winter and will review the situation again on Monday morning.”
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