WORK is to start to transform a former job centre in Oxford into a hub for the homeless after the city council won new government funding.

Successful funding bids for government grants means the council is committing an extra £1.3m to tackle rough sleeping in the city.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has awarded the council £727,400 to transform the former job centre in Floyds Row, off St Aldate’s into an assessment hub and shelter for up to 60 people experiencing homelessness or at risk of rough sleeping.

READ AGAIN: Government grants to cut rough sleeping in Oxford must be maintained

The council will spend the additional £1.3m on preventing and reducing rough sleeping – on top of the £1.7m it had already budgeted in 2019/20 to provide up to 219 beds for people experiencing homelessness.

Oxford Mail:

Visiting the former job centre yesterday with project manager Polly McKinlay, Ms Smith said: “The news we are to receive Government funding for our new homelessness facility at Floyds Row is of course very welcome and it will help us deliver so much more than just a safe place to stay, there will also be intensive support to help people address issues which may have contributed to their homelessness and to find them permanent accommodation.

READ AGAIN: Rough sleepers estimate is double the street count total

“But this is another short-term intervention, which doesn’t help us plan services for the future, or do anything to address the growing causes of street homelessness which include underfunded mental health services, a lack of drug and alcohol rehab places, and a badly run probation service.”

Oxford Mail:

Ms Smith added that the council would keep bidding for government funding to reduce rough sleeping.

The award comes on top of £387,000 the council has already committed to the Floyds Row project.

Public Health England has also agreed to give the council £100,000 to provide alcohol treatment services.

Oxford Mail:

Building work will start next month, with the first services expected to open in October.

Initially, Floyds Row will offer a daytime support and assessment centre for rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness – providing support with drug, alcohol and housing issues. It will also provide a winter-long emergency shelter that will be available to any rough sleeper.

Oxford Mail:

Floyds Row is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019.

Stephen Clarke, head of housing services, said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

"Together with our existing commitments, the extra government funding means we’ll be spending over £3m on helping people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Oxford.”

Last week the council said figures showed rough sleeping in the city was down.