Tackling the root causes of homelessness in Bristol

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Deliver & Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield Ward.

I’m thrilled that we will be able to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Bristol after a successful bid for grant funding of £886,000. This is on top of the almost £10 million that we were awarded last year, to keep vital homelessness services running.

In 2022 the Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) confirmed a three-year funding award of £9.88 million for Bristol City Council from the Rough Sleeping Prevention Initiative (RSI) in 2022.

This money will be used to provide access to accommodation and support, improve residents health and reduce the physical and mental health impact of living on the streets.

It will fund a programme of 24 services and initiatives working with people experiencing, or at risk, of sleeping rough in Bristol, all of whom are known to services. We aim to further reduce the number of people found sleeping rough.

Our teams have worked with service users, providers, people who work with those who are rough sleeping, and central government advisors, to develop a programme of services that includes an offer for every person at risk of homelessness in the city.

There is capacity in the council’s homelessness services to work with more than 2,100 people per year across the four main groups experiencing, or at risk, of rough sleeping in Bristol. These include people a risk of rough sleeping for the first time, people returning to rough sleeping or sleeping rough longer term, people leaving prison or hospital and people without recourse to public funds – including refugees and asylum seekers.

The RSI programme will allow the homelessness teams to develop existing services that have been successful, including rationalising services set up quickly during COVID-19.

This funding will also allow the council to employ more specialists, and add new initiatives, including specific employment support for rough sleepers and an enhanced offer to help people access private rented accommodation.

We have identified areas where there are gaps in this system and added more staff in some services to respond to an increasing demand thanks to the cost-of-living crisis, the lack of affordable housing in the city and welfare benefit levels.

Other support available for specialist clients includes the Homeless Move On Social Worker Team and High Stability Housing, both working with people with social care needs at risk of rough sleeping. The Respite Rooms service offers accommodation and support to women fleeing domestic violence and the Young Person’s Rough Sleeping Navigator provides intensive support around entering and sustaining supported housing.

The additional award of £886,000 for 2023-25 provides the opportunity for the council to bolster existing services to cope with demand as more people come onto the streets.

However, while this money is extremely welcome, these factors, which are leading to the increasing levels of people coming onto the streets, will make it difficult achieve the targets as set out in the government’s Ending Rough Sleeping strategy of ending rough sleeping by 2024.

In addition to this, Cabinet also approved the decision to apply for Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) funding, which offers capital grants to secure homes for specific homeless groups, along with revenue grant funding to support clients in their homes.

The council will now be putting in a bid on behalf of Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA), who want to buy 15 one-bed properties, which would be used to provide a Housing First model of support for single adults with long histories of rough sleeping or complex needs.

Housing First offers homeless people a tenancy with intensive floating support. It is a model that works particularly well for people where other interventions have not worked.

The council is in continued discussion with three registered providers with a view to them submitting bids for SHAP funding, and are also currently exploring the possibility of directly applying for SHAP capital funding to acquire a number of one bed properties to use for Housing First. This proposal is being developed with a view to applying to the November 2023 SHAP round.

Existing supported accommodation is oversubscribed, increasing the use of expensive temporary accommodation. SHAP funding offers an opportunity to increase the supply of high-quality supported accommodation which is needed to help individuals recover from the root causes of homelessness and reduce rough sleeping in Bristol.

SHAP provides flexibility in how registered providers acquire and deliver homes, which can allow for greater creative delivery of accommodation throughout the city.


  • The annual snapshot count of people rough sleeping in Bristol reduced from 68 in November 2022 to 58 in November 2023 reflecting the positive impact of the Rough Sleeping Initiative funded services.
  • The RSI5 programme of services is part of wider homelessness provision including adult and young people supported accommodation pathways and Bristol Street Outreach.
  • In Bristol rough sleeping support does not finish when a period of rough sleeping ends. All services either provide or link with ongoing support during new placements to prevent people returning to the streets.
  • The design of rough sleeping services builds on the development of RSI-funded services since the launch of the scheme in 2018 and on the success of the Everyone In scheme in Bristol during the COVID19 pandemic.


  • The Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) have launched SHAP – a new £200 million programme offering grant funding to increase the supply of high quality, specialist supported accommodation to address gaps in the existing homelessness pathways and achieve a sustainable reduction in rough sleeping.
  • The programme aims to provide an additional 2,400 units of accommodation nationally.
  • The programme is primarily aimed at funding Registered Providers (RPs) or local authorities to deliver units. However, the programme leaves the door open for other providers to deliver accommodation where explicit agreement is given by DLUHC.