Dozens of vulnerable Ukrainian refugees have been left homeless in Oxfordshire, an investigation has revealed.

Multiple FOI requests have shed light on the number of Ukrainians struggling to keep a roof over their heads in the county, revealing that of 2,143 refugees who were matched with sponsor homes under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, 31 are now registered as statutory homeless.

“I think a lot of Ukrainians are homeless in Oxfordshire because it’s very difficult to rent a house when you don’t have a credit history, and your salary is not high enough for renting,” said Kateryna Bondarchuk, who left Ukraine with her family one week after Putin’s invasion.

Responding to the requests, Oxfordshire County Council and the district councils reported that among the 2,143 Ukrainians matched with homes, at least 600 of them were family groups.

Further, at least 10 family groups, comprised of 25 people including children and teenagers, are included among the 31 Ukrainians who now meet the definition of statutory homelessness in the county.

Oxford Mail: Created on Canva, by Matthew NormanCreated on Canva, by Matthew Norman (Image: Matthew Norman)

Mrs Bondarchuk continued: “Some landlords don’t want to rent their property to Ukrainians because they have visas that only last for three years.

“Sponsors have been receiving £350 a month and it’s so little, especially if you host a big family. If the sponsors were paid more, they would host Ukrainians for more than a year.

“Ukrainians are struggling to find a living and they really need support from both the government and councils.”

The first request, made to the county council, sought to find out how many Ukrainians had been matched with sponsor families across all of Oxfordshire, to which the council answered 2,143.

When district councils were asked how many Ukrainians had been matched with homes in their borders, the cumulative figure was slightly different to the one given by the county council.

The collective total given by the district councils was 2,135, with 357 Ukrainians being matched in Cherwell, 600 in South Oxfordshire, 376 in Vale of White Horse, 424 in Oxford and 378 in West Oxfordshire.

Cherwell and Vale of White Horse reported no statutory homeless Ukrainians, South Oxfordshire reported three, West Oxfordshire reported five and Oxford City Council reported 23 people, comprising nine households.

A spokesperson for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils gave some definitions around homelessness: “The legal definition of homelessness is a broad term. It covers people who are roofless, but also people in other situations for example where they have a place to live but they can’t access it, or where they have been placed in temporary accommodation.

“If a council is not able to secure long term accommodation after 56 days, a formal decision is required, and the household becomes ‘statutory homeless’.

“This status is normally ended when long term accommodation is secured.”

Some hosts across the county have formed strong relationships with their Ukrainian guests, and now consider them part of the family.

David Thompson, who sponsored a Ukrainian mother and her daughter to live with him and his wife in Bicester, said: “It is now just over a year since I drove to Luton airport to pick up Oksana and Pasha, then our new guests, but now very much part of our family.

“Cutting through all the red tape and bureaucracy was hard work, but understandably needed to be done.

“From getting bank accounts, to signing up for doctors, registering with universal credit, obtaining national insurance numbers, sorting British residence permits, and finding a school for Pasha and work for Oksana, it was lucky my wife and I are retired and had the time to help.

Oxford Mail: (R to L) Oksana, Pasha. Credit: David Thompson.(R to L) Oksana, Pasha. Credit: David Thompson. (Image: David Thompson)

Oksana and Pasha really are part of our family, and the Homes for Ukraine scheme has, I think, been a success after a bumpy start.

“The big issue to address, now that the war is going on for longer, is what happens on the housing front. Some hosts will become unable to continue, either for economic or other reasons.

“If the war is still going on next year, then without continued goodwill payments, many hosts will drop out, leaving the housing burden to the councils.”

Despite the potential for housing concerns in the future, Victoria Prentis highlighted that many Ukrainians are still seeking host families in North Oxfordshire.

She said: “Through our new Ukrainian networks, we are aware of a large number of refugees still seeking sponsor families in our area.

“If anyone would be interested in hosting, please do get in touch with the council.”

She also shared her thanks with sponsor families: “We are all extremely grateful to those who have opened up their homes to Ukrainians this past year.

“More than 300 refugees have been welcomed to North Oxfordshire and like many hosts, we have been much more involved than we first expected and have found it very rewarding.

“The council has a statutory duty to prevent homelessness and I know the housing duty team will always work hard to support those at risk.”

Because of the sensitive nature of their presence in Oxfordshire, the question now arises as to whether statutory homeless Ukrainian refugees receive priority attention over the existing statutory homeless population of the county.

Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing at Oxford City Council, said: “Ukrainian refugees have the right to live in the UK.

“For those in Oxford, we provide the same homeless prevention support as for anyone with the right to live here.

“There is support available from the council and local refugee organisations for those looking to rent, providing advice and practical support with things like contracts, references and understanding the rental market in Oxford.” 

A spokesperson for Asylum Welcome, an organisation that helps to support asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants living in Oxfordshire, supported Ms Smith’s statement: “Over the past year, we have seen hosting arrangements come to an end, either predictably or suddenly.

“Each time this has happened, councils have stepped in and provided temporary accommodation while seeking alternative long-term solutions for the Ukrainian guests.

“We are pleased to note that across Oxfordshire, Ukrainians have been helped in finding new hosts and many others have succeeded in renting their own independent homes.”

After FOIs were also submitted to Warwickshire County council and Buckinghamshire council asking the same questions, it appears the picture is similar in these areas.

Buckinghamshire Council reported housing 1,607 Ukrainians since the Homes for Ukraine scheme began, and - clarifying that it doesn’t record by individuals but by households - added that 23 households are now registered as statutory homeless.

Further, the council reported that 15 households are currently homeless and being housed in temporary accommodation.

Warwickshire County Council has matched 1,317 Ukrainians with sponsor homes in the county, however, when the council was asked how the numbers were distributed over the five districts of Warwickshire, it responded by saying that was information held by the district councils themselves.

Upon requesting this information from the district councils, all but one of the respondents said it was the county council’s responsibility to hold this information.

Thus, only one district council provided a figure for how many Ukrainian refugees had been matched with homes in its borders – Nuneaton and Bedworth Council, which reported housing 79 groups with a total of 127 guests coming in and out of the borough.  

Further, only three of five district councils responded to requests asking how many Ukrainians within their borders are now registered as statutory homeless.

A spokesperson for Nuneaton and Bedworth Council said: “The council has administered four homeless applications and we have discharged our statutory duty.

“The council is currently administering three homeless applications.”

North Warwickshire Borough Council has one individual registered as statutory homeless, while Warwick District Council reported no statutory homeless, but three families who are registered as homeless.


If you feel you may be at risk of becoming homeless, you can visit the county council’s website which will give instructions on steps you can take and help you can get:

If you are a refugee living in Oxfordshire, and you need help with anything from education and employment to getting hold of a bike, you can get in touch with Asylum Welcome:


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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