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Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness in Exeter - December 2022

Published: 8 December 2022

Housing Needs Newsletter


Understandingly the challenges around homelessness often get highlighted at Christmas but it’s important to remember that homelessness can happen at any time throughout the year and our Housing Needs Team, voluntary sector partners and volunteers work tirelessly to help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

There has been a great deal of coverage recently about rough sleeping and homelessness in Exeter and it’s important for the Council to respond to and answer some of the common questions that have been raised.

Q1 – Why are there still people on the streets?

The flow of new people onto the streets continues to remain high and the Council and partners are working extremely hard to support individuals into housing which meets people’s needs.  For the first time we are starting to see people who are in full time employment sleeping outdoors in vehicles due to the spiralling cost of living crisis.   

Over the past quarter (July – September) our commissioned outreach service, delivered by Julian House has engaged with 118 individual rough sleepers on the streets of Exeter. 

Whilst there has been a reduction in repeat episodes of rough sleeping there has been an increase in the number of people rough sleeping on the streets of Exeter for the first time.

Q2 – What are the main reasons as to why people lose their housing?

For people rough sleeping in Exeter, for the first time, there could be a number of reasons why they have lost their accommodation. This includes  being unable to keep up with rent payments, coming into the city for a new start, relationship breakdowns, friends and families no longer able to accommodate.  

For repeat episodes of rough sleeping the main reason for people losing their temporary and supported accommodation is persistent or serious anti-social behaviour such as aggression towards staff and other residents, unauthorised visitors, drug taking and dealing and damage to property. 

Whilst the Council and partners do all they can to minimise evictions, unfortunately some individuals do lose their accommodation due to unacceptable behaviour causing harm and/or compromising safety for other residents.

Q3 – What happens once someone has been evicted from temporary accommodation or supported accommodation?

Wherever possible the Council and its commissioned services will continue to engage with individuals and review what alternative options are available.  It does depend on the reasons why people were evicted in the first instance - violence towards staff and other residents is certainly not tolerated.  Many people have been given multiple opportunities with support to amend their behaviour over many months.

There are of course successes but it sometimes takes people multiple placements until the right solution is found. 

The Council has 15 properties which are used for ‘Housing First’.  This is an approach which originated in the United States and is now being adopted internationally.  It starts at meeting the basic need (housing) and putting a wraparound support package, delivered by Bournemouth Churches Housing Asscoiation, in place to support people to maintain their tenancies and move forward with their lives, using council tenancies we are able to offer a safe, secure and long term home

Q4 – How many people have you accommodated over the past year?

The Housing Needs service has never stopped supporting people in the city.  Single homelessness is by far the greatest demand on the Housing Needs Service and as of 01st December 2022, we currently have 127 households in Temporary Accommodation of which 87 are single homeless households. 

Since April 2022, the Housing Needs service has accommodated 624 homeless households offering a total 29,457 nights of accommodation.

Q5 – What support do rough sleepers get?

Exeter City Council commissions Julian House to engage with rough sleepers across the city.  This is through early morning outreach and holding accommodation surgeries at Colab.  Outreach provide the initial response engaging with people where they are bedded down.  They provide vital welfare checks, support to engage with healthcare services and work with rough sleepers to identify short and long term housing solutions. 

Throughout the year ECC, St Petrock’s, CoLab Exeter, BCHA, Julian House, Devon Doctors, The Exeter Community Food Network and other voluntary services have worked tirelessly to ensure that rough sleepers have access to accommodation, meeting health needs, food as well as other support to help them recover from homelessness.  St Petrocks also provide wider services for rough sleepers including clothing provision and individualised support and signposting.

Q6 – How much does it cost to come into hostels or supported housing in Exeter?

There are no upfront costs to access any emergency, supported housing or the night shelter in Exeter.  Each household will be supported to make appropriate benefit claims and to claim for housing benefit to pay towards the rent.  There is a small service charge (also known as non-eligible housing benefit) for each resident.  This varies in cost across the projects and is often a contribution towards heating, lighting and the cleaning of communal areas.  For example, at one project the weekly service charge is £22 per week.  Service charges help residents to learn how to budget, as they will be expected to pay towards utilities when living independently. 

Q7 – What plans do you have to support rough sleepers during the winter months?

The Council is working with providers to identify other short term accommodation options for rough sleepers.  This includes identifying further funding to ensure we have an appropriate offer to last until the end of March, at the earliest, when we anticipate new properties will come on line. 

Q8– What has changed over the past Year?

Over the past year Exeter City Council has worked with providers across the city to bring on line an additional 74 units of accommodation

  • Exeter City Council – The council has been successful in obtaining funding, through the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, and are in the process of purchasing 20 one bedroom properties across the city which will be used to house people with a history of rough sleeping. To date 13 have been purchased with 8 currently tenanted.
  • Exeter City Community Trust (ECCT) – The Council is working in partnership with ECCT to provide 55 units of accommodation across the city. Through a bid submitted to the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme 3 years funding was secured to pay for dedicated housing support, which helps to support people to maintain their tenancies and learn the skills to live independently.
  • Julian House – The Council is working in partnership with Julian House to provide 6 additional units of accommodation across the city. Like ECCT the funding was sourced through a bid to the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme and will be used to fund housing support.

Q9 – How can I help?

You can report rough sleepers in your community through StreetLink, using either their website or mobile app, but if you cannot access the internet you can also get in touch via their phone line on 0300 500 0914.  

Julian House provide regular outreach throughout the week and your report will go directly to their team to investigate and provide support as soon as possible.  There is good intelligence regarding who is rough sleeping within the city centre and services are keen to hear if you know of someone bedded down further out from the city centre. 

St Petrocks has released its Christmas Campaign and you can support their work by visiting their website.

Q10 – A big thanks from us!

Exeter has lots of amazing volunteers, charities and organisations who support thousands of our most vulnerable citizens across the city throughout the year.  On behalf of Exeter City Council we would like to thank you all for your support, time and dedication!


Contacting the Council for Housing Advice

Homeless or threatened with homelessness

If you are homeless or feel you may become homeless, we want to hear from you so that we can do our best to help you. If you are already homeless and are unable to resolve the issue yourself, then we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. We are working hard to ensure that everyone who becomes homeless in Exeter gets help. So if you are already homeless then you need to follow the links on this page and let us know.

If you are at risk of becoming homeless then you may want to look at the information on our Advice about Homelessness page. This will help you decide what the best solution is for you. However we would still suggest that unless you are confident that you can find a solution without further help from us, that you approach us for advice and assistance that is tailored to your needs.


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