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2 May, 2024

Cheryl’s story: why a lack of social and affordable housing in Oxfordshire is contributing to the housing crisis

As the county’s largest provider of supported accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, Homeless Oxfordshire is acutely aware of the pressures facing local authorities, statutory services and housing providers.

Since 2021, Oxfordshire has seen a 64% rise in the number of households experiencing homelessness. There has also been an unprecedented rise in people being placed in expensive and often inappropriate temporary accommodation.

We support the people behind these statistics. We get to know their individual stories and the circumstances that have contributed towards their homelessness. We walk with them, supporting them when they need us, enabling them to rebuild their lives and move on from homelessness.

One of these people is Cheryl*, who, with our support, overcame domestic abuse and addiction challenges to enter into rehab. She is now nearing completion of rehab and is working towards making a fresh start for herself, with hopes of being reunited with her children.

However, we see on a daily basis the barriers people like Cheryl face when they are ready to move on from our supported accommodation into their own home. The social and affordable housing they need is simply not available. This causes a delay to their move to independence and adds additional, unnecessary strain on the services, like ours, that have to bridge this gap.

Whilst many factors are contributing to the housing crisis, the underlying issue has been a lack of social and truly affordable housebuilding. Shelter’s recent report suggests that in 2022/23 we saw a net loss of 11,684 social homes across England.

Homeless Oxfordshire are supportive of any building scheme that will increase the social and affordable housing stock in Oxfordshire, and we urge housing providers and local councils to consider the wider benefit to society of any such scheme and the ways it will help deliver the social and affordable housing our county and people like Cheryl so desperately need.

*Although the story is true, the resident’s name and image have been changed to protect their anonymity.

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