Council considers new housing options for vehicle dwellers: vehicles-Ibolya Feher-PictureAid

29 Sep 2020

Council considers new housing options for vehicle dwellers

The Council has secured additional living space and facilities in the city.

Bristol City Council has reaffirmed its commitment to helping vehicle dwellers during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, by securing additional living space and facilities in the city.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, community-led social enterprise Bristol Vehicles for Change and council housing teams have been co-managing two temporary sites for vehicle dwellers in Sea Mills and Hengrove.

These sites have offered people access to a safe living space during the outbreak, and access to vital facilities that some have found more difficult to access such as water, showers and waste facilities.

On 30 September, the temporary site at Sea Mills will be closing due to historic issues with flooding throughout the winter months. Occupants were advised in August of its forthcoming closure, and support has been offered by the council to secure alternative living space and help to tow vehicles to a new site.

The Hengrove location will continue to operate as a temporary site for vehicle dwellers and its capacity has been extended to offer safe living space and facilities for 30 vehicles. Spaces have already been secured for many occupants.

The authority is also looking at further housing options for potential sites around the city, one of which is a new site for vehicle dwellers in Filwood that will be managed independently by occupants.

Local ward members and the Northern Slopes Initiative have been consulted and notified of plans for the temporary site.

Cllr Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Homes said: “Our Housing teams have worked proactively to make sure that some of our vehicle dwelling community can move safely to a new site and maintain access to necessities they need. The extra space at Hengrove will carry on offering that vital temporary support, and conversations with occupants will continue to make sure future housing options are reflective of their wants and needs.

“At a time of crisis, it’s important that we don’t leave pockets of our communities behind. I’m proud of the work the Council and Vehicles for Change have done to make sure there are accessible options for our vehicle dwelling community.”

The site in Filwood will see approximately eleven spaces available for vehicles, with social distancing measures in place and basic necessities such as waste disposal and clean water. The facilities offered will be based on direct feedback from the vehicle dwelling community.

David, an occupant at the temporary site in Sea Mills said it has been: “A welcome refuge in a time of uncertainty and upheaval for everyone, particularly van dwellers.”

Another occupant Dan said: “I’m proud that Bristol Council reached out to us vehicle dwellers and recognised us as part of the community.”