The grim extent of homelessness and rough sleeping in Exeter and how it is being tackled has been revealed.

Figures documented by Exeter City Council state that around 30 new people a week present themselves as homeless to the council.

The number is said to have remained consistent from mid-March to mid-September. When lockdown was announced in March, the number of people rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping who were accommodated on special emergency Covid grounds was 102 as part of the government’s Everybody In initiative.

The numbers accepted into temporary accommodation have also remained consistent during the same period, averaging 24 households per month, excluding rough sleepers accommodated under the Everybody In scheme.

However, September recorded a spike in numbers with 17 accommodated within the first two weeks of the month.

The spike has continued with a further 24 accommodated by the end of September and 19 accommodated between October 1 and 15, which are the latest figures provided in the report.

Devon Live’s Hidden Devon campaign focuses on homelessness

The council and core homelessness accommodation landlords has been working on speedier move-ons, as well as delivering more temporary and interim accommodation options to provide more appropriate temporary accommodation while reducing bed and breakfast use costs.

Of the 102 people who were accommodated within a matter of days as part of Everybody In after lockdown was announced, 38 have moved on successfully through other housing options via friends/family, private rented, social housing and supported housing.

A further 22 have lost or abandoned emergency accommodation, and 42 remain in emergency Covid-accommodation, principally at the Great Western Hotel.

In October there were 28 individuals verified as rough sleeping on the street. Of those six were referred for accommodation at a repurposed city centre 11-bed hostel in Howell Road, which opened last week.

It was originally due to reopen for rough sleepers in mid-October. However, issues with the building refurbishment meant it was delayed.

Figures have also been provided for people fleeing domestic abuse and violence and needing to be housed. Partner support services have reported a 50 per cent increase in service users since March, but the council stated it had not been reflected in demand for emergency housing.

Instead it reported demand had remained consistent at the average rate of 12 presentations per month, with an average of six households accommodated by the council per month.

A supported housing pathway review, in particular move-on functions and capacity, is currently being carried out by the council with partner agencies. It is looking to reset targets relating to tenancy duration and anticipated move-on and build further capacity in the private rented sector through financial support packages to landlords and clients, and leasing private move-on accommodation.

An announcement is also imminent over whether the council has been successful in obtaining a £3.5 million Capital programme bid for the creation of 30 new units of accommodation with support to be delivered before March 31, 2021.

The council plans to purchase and open a further 25 Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) funded beds, if the council’s own NSAP capital bid is successful, to be available as soon as possible before March 31, 2021.

In total this would deliver 46 bed spaces to rough sleepers and those at immediate risk of rough sleeping.

If it is granted, it will include an investment of over £1million by the council. The accommodation will be a mixture of self-contained properties, studio flats, en-suite rooms and smaller houses of multiple occupancy.

Earlier this year, the council was awarded £440,000 under the government’s NSAP to enable it to continue offering emergency accommodation and support for rough sleepers at the Great Western Hotel and other temporary placements up until March 2021.

The plan is to resettle all current occupants of the hotel into move-on housing as and when vacancies and new spaces come online. Move-on accommodation is provided by the council and other registered social landlords including Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) who run Exeter hostel Gabriel House in Smythen Street, and supported accommodation Morwenna Court in St David’s Hill.

Council leader Phil Bialyk said: “In Exeter we are committed to seeing an end to rough sleeping. The funding we have and what we hope to receive isn’t just for rough sleeping; it’s for everyone who has lost accommodation during Covid and is an ambitious plan to tackle homelessness in a way not seen before.

The beginnings of the encampment in Exeter City Centre
The beginnings of the encampment in Exeter City Centre

“In Exeter we have a dedicated group of partners who are committed to tackling homelessness in the city including BCHA, Julian House, YMCA, Young Devon, Westward Housing, Access Health Care, Co-Lab Exeter, and St Petrocks. We are also a member of the Exeter Homelessness Partnership.

“With the support we have, we will continue to work towards ending rough sleeping and finding accommodation for those who need it.”

Devon Live has launched Hidden Devon, a series of campaigns highlighting issues that lie beneath the surface of our county.

The first concerns the issue of homelessness in the county’s cities, towns and villages – exacerbated by the grim impact of the global pandemic.

Not only do scores of people sleep rough on streets, in parks and even on farmland, there are those labelled ‘of no fixed abode’ for other reasons. They may have fled to a refuge, they may have been temporarily housed in a bed and breakfast or they may simply be living in one of region’s dedicated homeless hostels.

How to give

A big part of our campaign is recognising the institutions across the region that are desperately trying to help those in need. In many instances, they are staffed with volunteers giving up their own free time.

You can donate to various charities including PATH Torbay via this link, the Julian House Christmas Appeal covering Exeter and other parts of Devon via this link, or St Petrocks in Exeter via this link.

Are you a charity that would benefit from our fundraising? Contact us at newsdesk@devonlive.com

Find more Hidden Devon stories here

Devon Live campaign Hidden Devon is shining the spotlight on homelessness in 2020

Devon Live has launched Hidden Devon, a series of campaigns highlighting issues that lie beneath the surface of our county.

The first concerns the issue of homelessness in the county’s cities, towns and villages – exacerbated by the grim impact of the global pandemic.

Not only do scores of people sleep rough on streets, in parks and even on farmland, there are those labelled ‘of no fixed abode’ for other reasons. They may have fled to a refuge, they may have been temporarily housed in a bed and breakfast or they may simply be living in one of region’s dedicated homeless hostels.

How to give

A big part of our campaign is recognising the institutions across the region that are desperately trying to help those in need. In many instances, they are staffed with volunteers giving up their own free time.

You can donate to various charities including PATH Torbay via this link, the Julian House Christmas Appeal covering Exeter and other parts of Devon via this link, or St Petrocks in Exeter via this link.

Are you a charity that would benefit from our fundraising? Contact us at newsdesk@devonlive.com

Find more Hidden Devon stories here





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