Resonance, Response and Oxford City Council Providing Safe, Affordable Homes For Rough Sleepers In Oxford
Social impact property fund manager Resonance*, via its National Homelessness Property Fund 2 (NHPF2), announces a new housing partner, Oxford-based charity, Response.
This marks a new three-way partnership between Resonance, Response and Oxford City Council and will see around 47 people in the city facing housing crisis, provided with a stable and affordable home and specialist support. This partnership is also essential in the countywide “Settled Oxfordshire” project which provides a housing-led approach for people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping in the area.
Following investment from Oxford City Council, NHPF2 is now purchasing around 10 shared homes in Oxford and 17 one-bedroom flats in and around Oxford. The fund refurbishes properties to a good standard, ensuring they are energy efficient, before leasing them to housing partners to provide individuals and families at risk of homelessness with a settled home. In Oxford, the fund is being used to house people, including those in council temporary accommodation who are at risk of rough sleeping, as well as people who are leaving high-needs supported accommodation but not eligible for social housing, and those experiencing rough sleeping for the first time.
Alongside investment from Oxford City Council into NHPF2, additional investment into the fund also included a £2m contribution from the government’s Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme (RSAP), and at least a further £2m from the fund’s existing investors, which has been allocated to support buying the Oxford properties. RSAP aims to provide longer-term, move-on accommodation and specialist support to rough sleepers across the UK, enabling them to transition into independent living.
Partnering with Response means that NHPF2 provides people in Oxford with more than just a decent and affordable home by providing them with stability and specialist support services. Response provides person-centred, recovery-focused, wraparound support for people with mental health issues and complex needs, enabling them to live independently within their local community. So, as a housing partner to the fund, Response will support tenants to sustain their tenancy and make positive plans in other areas of their lives, such as tackling mental health and addiction issues and finding employment. And because the tenancies granted by the fund are longer than traditionally offered in the private rented sector, tenants benefit from this stability, are able to put down roots in their community and plan for their future goals. The partnership (contract) with Response runs until March 2024, with the option to run for a further twelve months.
As in other parts of the UK, there is a need for affordable housing in Oxford:
- There are currently more than 3,000 households on Oxford’s housing register1
- While the number of people experiencing rough sleeping in Oxford has reduced considerably from a peak of 61 in 2017, the council estimated that there were 31 people sleeping rough at the end of 2022
As the UK has seen private rental prices hit record highs in the twelve months to September 2022, in part driven by a severe shortage of properties available and a large demand, the need for affordable housing is only likely to continue to rise. According to Rightmove3, tenant demand was up by 20% compared with last year, while the total number of available properties to rent was down by 9%.
In Oxford, the latest ONS statistics put lower quartile one-bed non-studio rents at £918 a month, whilst the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate is £775 a month. By providing affordable properties to tenants who receive Local Housing Allowance, the partnership increases access to housing and reduces homelessness for those who would otherwise be left without somewhere to live.
In addition to Oxford, NHPF2 is also currently buying properties in, and partnering with other housing partners, in other regions across the UK, including Greater Manchester, Bristol, and Liverpool City Region, delivering both a risk-adjusted return and social impact to investors. With ambitions to expand across the UK, the fund aims to raise £300 million from institutional impact investors such as pension funds, foundations and local authorities. This will enable it to acquire around 1,500 homes and to house around 16,500 people over its 15-year lifetime.
“I am delighted that National Homelessness Property Fund 2 has partnered with Oxford-based charity Response. This partnership is providing an opportunity for us to make a real difference to the lives of people sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation in Oxford. It means that people in the city in need of decent and stable housing but unable to access the private rental market can be provided with a safe and affordable home and, with specialist support services provided by Response, start creating positive futures for themselves.”
John Williams, Managing Director of Property Funds at Resonance
“Even before the cost of living crisis, the gap between local housing allowance rates and actual rents was a major barrier to people moving on from rough sleeping, temporary accommodation or supported housing in Oxford. This investment will provide good quality and affordable homes for people who have suffered homelessness to move into, with tailored support on hand to help them towards independent living. It’s a cost-effective option in our efforts to prevent homelessness and also a social investment for the council in the current challenging financial climate.”
Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing
“We’re thrilled to have been chosen to work in partnership with Resonance and Oxford City Council to deliver this critical service. This initiative strongly aligns with our Caring, Safe, Creative and Aspirational values.
“Every one of us at Response is hugely passionate about ending the cycle of homelessness, transforming people’s lives and ensuring they feel supported every step of the way. We believe that access to safe, secure accommodation is a fundamental human right. Throughout this project, we will be looking to engage the broader community as we raise funds to ensure that all of our houses are equipped to the level that allows those living in them to thrive. We’re excited to have begun delivering this essential service, and we can’t wait to see the long-term difference it makes in the lives of those accessing it.”
Nicola Leavesley, Response Joint CEO, and Luke Winstone, Settled Oxfordshire Manager.