Open Door Newsletter, issue 2: HOMELESSNESS SPECIAL
Homelessness can compound current mental health, drug misuse and or alcohol abuse problems amongst young people. There is a significant connection between homelessness and leaving education, employment and or training. Young people struggle to find sufficient training schemes while claiming Jobseekers Allowance. The emphasis is on proving that you are looking for work, but young people need training opportunities.
Young people find the experience of making homeless applications confusing. They are often told ‘go stay with your friends or family’. The information given is bewildering. Homeless persons are asked to provide information that as homeless they are not able to provide and without the information their application will not continue. Homeless agencies are calling for devoted housing officers for young people.
How to make a homelessness application
There are five tests to assess your eligibility for making an application for homelessness:
- Are you eligible for homelessness assistance? Only certain people are entitled to help with homelessness from the housing authority. It will look at your immigration status to work out if you are eligible. If you’ve recently arrived in, or returned to, the UK, you may not be eligible.
- Are you homeless or threatened with homelessness? This test is about whether you meet the legal definition of being homeless or are threatened with homelessness within 28 days.
- Do you have a priority need? This is about whether you have a priority need for housing because of some special circumstances, for example, because you are young, pregnant or vulnerable.
- Are you intentionally homeless? This generally means that your homelessness, or threatened homelessness, was caused by something that you deliberately did or failed to do.
- Do you have a local connection? This is about whether you have a local connection with the district of the housing authority that you applied to or to another housing authority.
Learning Disability: the test of vulnerability is about whether you, as a homeless person, would be less able to fend for yourself, and would be more likely to suffer injury or harm compared to an ordinary person who happened to be in need of accommodation. The fact that you may get help with your condition does not exclude you from being vulnerable, the council must not decide that you have help therefore you are not vulnerable. The council must not make a decision on whether you can fend for yourself when homeless, but the fact that you are homeless or will be homeless.
The council also has duties under the Equality Act 2010. They must consider whether the applicant has a disability within the Equality Act, in particular:
- the extent of the disability
- its likely effect on the applicant if and when homeless (taken together with any other relevant factors), and
- whether this would result in the applicant being vulnerable
Priority Need: Medical Need: you can be in priority need for various reasons such as a mental or physical problem, former care leaver aged 21 or over, violence or threats of violence, or other special reasons such as HIV/Aids or former asylum seeker. The council must take into account the following:
- the nature and extent of your illness and/or disability and how it may make you vulnerable
- the relationship between your illness and/or disability and your housing difficulties
- the relationship between your illness and/or disability and other things, such as, drug or alcohol misuse, challenging or offending behaviour, age and personality disorder.
You will need to provide medical evidence of any illness / disability.
Mental health supported housing: if you are vulnerable due to a mental illness you may be placed in mental health supported housing, once your placement has ended you can apply for a place on the housing register under the mental health quota, the aim is to secure permanent independent accommodation.
Domestic Violence: You will have a priority need if you are vulnerable because you have left your home due to violence from another person, or because of threats of violence that are likely to be carried out. The council will look at the impact and likely effects of the violence or threats on your current and future physical and mental well-being. They are not allowed to refuse your application because you failed to seek legal advice or report the incident(s) to the police. You are vulnerable because you are fleeing violence or threats of violence.
Young People Leaving Care: You are vulnerable because you used to be ‘looked after, accommodated or fostered’ and are now aged 21 or over… if you’re aged 18, 19 or 20, and at any time between being 16 and 18, you were ‘looked after, accommodated or fostered’, and are not a ‘relevant student’ you will be in priority need. A relevant student is a care leaver under the age of 25 who is in full-time further or higher education, and whose term-time accommodation is not available to them during a vacation. Social services has a duty to provide or arrange accommodation for a relevant student. The Care Leavers Accommodation Panel assess the needs of the young person leaving care, there are range of housing options available such as a direct offer of a studio property.
Social Services Referral: Social services can make a referral if you have a learning disability and you require supported housing. Once you are able to move in to independent accommodation you can be referred for permanent housing.
NEXT ISSUE: Permanent Accommodation
- How to get on the housing register
- Residence requirement
- Medical priority
- Pathway for bedsit / studio accommodation
Citizens Advice Westminster: submit an online enquiry
Crisis.org.uk- see their search engine for support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and are willing to consider housing in the private rented
Tel: 020 7430 2212
Fax: 020 7430 2213
Hope Worldwide Organisation
Tel: 0207 713 7655.
Housing Options Service
101 Orchardson Street, London NW8 8EA
Opening hours: 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, midday to 4pm on the last Wednesday of each month)
Shelter advice line 0808 800 4444