On 3rd April 2018, changes in the law alter the help and support you get. This is if you are at risk of, or already are, homeless. Support and advice is still be available from the same places.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 puts duties on local authorities to intervene earlier under a prevention and/or relief duty. This is by extending the definition of threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days. Also, by extending the remit of those households who we should help, irrespective of ‘priority need’ or ‘unintentional homelessness’.
There are more requirements to identify the circumstances and needs of households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days. Also, a duty to produce a written personalised plan that includes certain action the household and Council agree to undertake.
Do you believe you are at risk of losing your home? Please visit: Risk of Homelessness and fill in a self-referral.
They will arrange for a Housing Adviser to interview you. They will work with you to try to prevent you from becoming homeless, by:
- giving you your local housing options;
- negotiating or mediating with whoever you rent from or live with so that you can remain in your current home or stay there until you can find somewhere else to live;
- telling you your rights as a lodger or tenant;
- telling you the rights of your landlord;
- giving advice and helping you with your difficulties in finding somewhere else to live;
- assisting you in applying for properties through: KeyChoice ,or with other housing associations ;
- referring you for debt advice if you need it;
- assisting you with rent and mortgage problems;
- referring you for supported housing;
- referring you for floating housing related support;
- helping you if you are experiencing: Domestic violence and abuse and may refer you to a specialist service.
We will ask you for permission to contact other agencies or professionals who are involved with you as well as possibly your family or landlord.
What should I bring with me to the interview?
Try to bring anything that may help the advisor help you in the interview. For example, your tenancy agreement and any notice you may have received, telling you to leave the property if you have one. You should also bring proofs of identity with you, for example a passport or driving licence.
What else can I do?
- You should make sure that you give your Adviser as much information as possible, and you must keep your Adviser informed of any changes in your circumstances. You will be asked to sign a form to confirm that you will do this and that you have told us the truth.
- You should do whatever you can to prevent your homelessness and if that is not possible you should do all you can to try find somewhere else to live. There are not enough Together Housing or other Housing Association properties becoming available for rent to provide a new home for everyone who needs or wants one. Many people facing homelessness or who become homeless will have to consider finding a property in the privately rented sector. The good news is that we can help you with this!
Some people will not be offered a property by Together Housing or a Housing Association because they are not considered able to sustain a tenancy. In such circumstances we can help to make a referral to a housing support service.
What if my homelessness cannot be prevented?
If you cannot carry on living where you are we will work with you to try and find you alternative accommodation. In some cases this may mean a referral to a hostel. We will carry out an assessment of your circumstances under Homelessness law. The homelessness assessment can take some time to complete.
We will assess the following to see what duties the Council has to you:
- Are you eligible for assistance
Most people will be eligible for assistance. However some people subject to immigration control and other persons from abroad may not be.
- Are you homeless or threatened with homelessness
This means that there is nowhere legally available for you to stay and where it is reasonable for you to do so. You are threatened with homelessness if you will lose your home within 28 days.
- Are you in priority need
This means that you fall into one of the priority categories set out in homelessness law. You are considered to be in a priority category if:
- you are pregnant;
- you have a dependent child under 16 years;
- you are 18 years old and still at school;
- you are vulnerable as a result of institutionalisation - this could include those who have spent time in care, the armed forces or prison;
- you are 16 or 17 years old;
- vulnerable as a result of a physical disability or mental illness, old age or another special reason;
- homeless due to a fire, flood or similar disaster;
- forced to leave home because of violence or abuse and are more at risk than most people.
These are examples of priority categories. The advisor will discuss this with you further.
- Are you intentionally homeless
This means that you have done or failed to do something that has caused you to lose your home (this includes ignoring advice we give you about how to prevent your homelessness).
- Do you have a local connection
This means whether you have a local connection with Calderdale through recent residence or permanent work.
What if I have nowhere to live whilst you are carrying out this assessment?
If we have reason to believe that you are eligible for help, actually homeless and in priority need, we will offer you interim accommodation.
We cannot usually be flexible about the interim accommodation offered and only one offer of accommodation will be made. Occasionally this may be outside the Calderdale district. You can only take a limited amount of possessions with you and no pets at all are allowed in the accommodation. There is a charge for any interim accommodation provided and you will be expected to pay this. A housing support worker from our Temporary Accommodation and Support Service will help you to claim any benefits you may be entitled to.
What happens at the end of the homelessness assessment?
When the assessment is completed, we will write to you with our decision. The letter will set out what duty if any the Council has to you. The highest level of duty the Council has, is to provide temporary accommodation until certain things happen to bring that duty to an end. The Council does not have a duty to provide or find you permanent accommodation. We will however work with you to help you to find more permanent accommodation.
What if I don't agree with your decision?
If you think our decision is wrong, you can ask for a review. To do this you should write to us within 21 days of receiving the decision letter, say that you want to request a review of the homelessness decision and tell us why. An officer who was not involved in the original decision will take a fresh look at your situation. We will notify you of the outcome within 8 weeks of receiving your request.
If we are required to provide you with temporary accommodation, only one offer of accommodation will be made. This may be a self contained flat, a place in a hostel with some shared facilities or very occasionally, bed and breakfast accommodation. If you do not consider this offer of accommodation suitable, you can request a review of its suitability. If you refuse the offer of temporary accommodation, the Council will have no further duty to you as a homeless person.
If we have a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation and you are subsequently given Gold Band priority within the allocation scheme, this will be for a limited period and you will only be made one offer of a permanent home. This may be through the KeyChoice scheme or a direct offer by a Housing Association. We may also secure an offer of an affordable privately rented tenancy for you. Young People may be offered a nomination to a Supported Lodgings scheme.
If you refuse a reasonable offer of accommodation, the Council will no longer have a duty to you as a homeless person, Gold Band priority will be removed from your KeyChoice membership and you will be required to leave temporary accommodation.
Will I have to pay for temporary accommodation?
Anyone who is placed in temporary accommodation will have to pay for their stay there. How much you pay will depend on where you are staying.
If you are entitled to claim the local housing allowance this should help you pay the rent. The housing support staff at temporary accommodation will help you complete a housing benefit form.
What should I do with my furniture if I go into temporary accommodation?
If it seems likely that you will be offered temporary accommodation, you should try and find somewhere to store your belongings. If you are unable to make your own arrangements, the Council can arrange storage for you. There is a charge for this service, which you will be expected to pay in full. We will however make an arrangement with you to pay an affordable amount each week until the full charge has been repaid.
Homelessness prevention strategy
The Calderdale Homelessness Strategy 2015-20, shows what we (and a wide range of partners) will do to tackle homelessness in the Borough, over a five year period. This is the third strategy Calderdale have published since 2002.
The strategy contains four key objectives:
- to mitigate the impact of welfare reform;
- to develop appropriate services and an accommodation pathway to prevent youth homelessness;
- to improve outcomes for homeless people with chaotic lifestyles;
- to identify the risk of homelessness of homelessness amongst older people and the potential for developing preventative action.
The strategy is supported by an action plan that will be reviewed on an annual basis. For more about this, please read: