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Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness in Exeter

Published: 23 December 2021

Homeless Homelessness in Exeter

No-one should have to sleep rough on Exeter’s streets and the City Council with its partners are doing everything possible to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness in the city.

Sometimes people don’t always see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in trying to ensure that everyone has a roof over their head. Many people often ask what goes on in the city to help those who don’t have a home. These questions and answers may prove useful:

Q1 – Why are there still people on the streets?

The flow of new people onto the streets remains high and the Council and Partners are working extremely hard to support individuals into housing which meets people’s needs. 

Over the past year our commissioned outreach service, delivered by Julian House have engaged with 193 rough sleepers on the streets of Exeter. 

One particular challenge is the increase in people who have had more than one episode of rough sleeping, losing accommodation due to their behaviour and making it more difficult to identify alternative accommodation as options are significantly reduced.

In 2022 the council and partners are making significant investments into new housing which will help to reduce rough sleeping in the city. 

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

The main reasons for people losing their accommodation are aggression towards staff and other residents, unauthorised visitors, drug taking and dealing and damage to property.  Whilst the Council alongside its partners does all it can to minimise evictions, unfortunately we still have to evict people who are unwilling to follow the basic accommodation rules.  The council and partners continue to work with people to find alternative options.

Q3 – If someone is evicted for their behaviour does that mean you will no longer help them?

No, wherever possible the council and its commissioned services will continue to engage with individuals and review what 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 more than one chance over the past 6 months.

We have had a number of successes and it sometimes takes people multiple placements until we find the right solution.

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

Our 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 17th December 2021, we currently have 108 households in Temporary Accommodation of which 84 are single homeless households. 

Over the past year the Housing Needs service has accommodated 311 single homeless households with 26 households accommodated on more than one occasion.

Q5 – What support do rough sleepers get?

Exeter City Council commissions Julian House and local health providers to engage with rough sleepers in 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, Exeter City Community Trust, 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. 

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

There is no upfront cost to access any emergency, supported housing or the night shelter in Exeter.  Each individual or household is 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 cleaning of communal areas.  For example, at one project the weekly service charge is £14.37.  Service charges also help residents to learn how to budget, as they will be expected to pay towards utilities when living independently. 

Q7 – Why isn’t the night shelter open?

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the council is not able to use the night shelter in the same way as it has been used in the past.  The possible risk of transmission within shared sleeping spaces is too great a risk and has resulted in a significant reduction of the 25 bedspaces.

Q8 – 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 accommodation and support to ensure we have an appropriate offer to last until the end of March, at the earliest, when we hope new properties will come on line.  Over the coming year and working with Exeter City Community Trust and Julian House we have up to 50 units of additional accommodation coming online which will make a big difference in helping to end rough sleeping in the city.

Q9 – How can I help?

If you see someone sleeping rough, you can help them connect with local services via 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 contact and support as soon as possible.  We have good intelligence about who is rough sleeping within the city centre and are very keen to hear if you know of someone bedded down further out from the city centre. 

Members of the community, local businesses and faith groups already do a huge amount to help us address homelessness in the City, so thank you. Exeter Homeless Partnership is a good starting point to understand more about homelessness, have your say (via @homelessexeter on Twitter) or learn how you can support local agencies to end homelessness in Exeter.

There are also QR codes across the City where the public can make a donation to EHP or access a homelessness toolkit, and ‘Tap2Give’ contactless points located at BrewDog, Nationwide & John Lewis.

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