Help, I am homeless!
TheSite.org's guide to finding a bed.
Am I legally homeless?
Whether you are sleeping on the streets or your mate's sofa, you could be classed as legally homeless. If you qualify then you need to register as homeless with your local council.
How do I register as homeless?
If you live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland contact your local council's housing department or housing executive. Councils have duties to help homeless people immediately but the amount of help they offer depends on your particular circumstances. Most councils have homeless persons sections; if yours doesn't, you should go to your nearest housing office to apply for help.
If you want council housing you should make sure your name is on the council's waiting list. If for some reason the council won't add you to the list, get advice about your individual rights regarding this from someone like Shelter.
Other points to remember:
- When you apply for council support, your case will be looked at on an individual basis;
- A housing department cannot turn you away by saying it does not help young people;
- Take along a friend, relative or advice worker for help and support;
- knowyourrights have put together a handy checklist for the papers you should take with you when registering as homeless.
The laws differ in Scotland. For localised advice see Shelter Scotland.
What will the council need to find out?
They will want to know:
- if you are homeless;
- if you are 'eligible for assistance';
- if you are in 'priority need';
- if you became homeless deliberately;
- if you have a connection with its area;
If you apply as homeless and the council accepts you as priority need, it must house you, even if it is just temporarily.
Am I in priority need?
You are likely to be classed as priority need if you are under 18 or have been in care; have been affected by a fire or disaster; are elderly, disabled or pregnant; are at risk from violence; have recently left prison or the armed forces or if you are under 25 and have problems with drugs or alcohol.
The Homelessness Act means more people are classed as a priority need and as such will be entitled to more help from their council. There are also new regulations for the under 18s:
- knowyourrights advice if you are between 16 and 25 years old
- knowyourrights advice for those who have left care
Where can I sleep tonight?
You won't necessarily have to sleep rough - there are plenty of emergency options available. See this knowyourrights article for more details or call Shelter on 0808 8004444 for immediate advice.
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