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Homelessness

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Questions on this page:

Where can you get help if you are homeless?

Do the local authorities have to find you accommodation?

When can you be taken into care by your local authority?

What other help should the local authority give you?

Where will you live if you are not living at home?

Where can you get help if you are homeless?

You don’t have to be living on the street to be homeless. If you are sofa-surfing or living somewhere that is dangerous or overcrowded, then you can also be homeless.

If you are homeless, or are at risk of being homeless, you should make a homelessness application to your local council. To do this, go to the housing department of your local council and say that you want to make a homelessness application. It is helpful to take proof of identity with you as well as proof of where you used to live and proof of any wages that you earn.

Do the local authorities have to find you accommodation?

The local authority (council) has to find you accommodation if you fulfil certain criteria. Most people who are British and have not spent time living in other countries will fulfil the first criteria which is being ‘eligible for assistance’. You will also need to show that you are in priority need.

You are considered in priority need if:  

• Have a child/children
• You are pregnant (or the person who you live with is pregnant)
• You can’t stay where you have been living because there has been a fire, flood or another accident.
• Someone that you live with needs extra help because of old age
• You have a physical or mental illness
• You are over 20, but have been in care
• You are 16 or 17 (BUT if you need help with your education and welfare as well as housing, social services have to provide this help for you, not the housing department)
• You are 18 to 20 and have been in care (but if you are a student, then social services are responsible for you)

The Council will also check to see if you aren’t intentionally homeless- this means that you have left somewhere where you could have lived safely.

If you fulfil these criteria, the local authority have a duty to find you accommodation. They also have a duty to find you temporary accommodation while they find somewhere for you to live permanently.

When can you be taken into care by your local authority?

The local authority (council) can take you into care if they think that the people who are supposed to look after you are neglecting you, are making you suffer or can’t look after you properly.

Social services will start to make important decisions about where you will live, where you go to school and your health and welfare.

What other help should the local authority give you?

If you are in care, your local authority should also encourage you to see your parents, siblings and grandparents. The local authority can provide you with money to cover your travel costs to visit your family.

Where will you live if you are not living at home?

If you are found to be ‘in priority need’ your local authority must find you housing. They may place you in temporary housing at first, until they find you a permanent place to stay.

If you are 16 or 17 and social services think that you are a ‘child in need’ (this means that you need extra support and care, not just housing) then they have a duty to house you.

If you are not held to be ‘in priority need’ or in need of extra help from social services there are still a number of different places where you can stay. If you haven’t lived on our own before, and think that you might need extra help, you could apply to live in a foyer. You could also apply to live in Council or Housing Association housing, this is often cheaper than renting privately.

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