Are you homeless or threatened with homelessness? - Luton Council

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Homeless Reduction Act 2017 (HRA)

In 2017, parliament passed the HRA. This is changing how we help people or households who are or may become homeless.

The new law focuses on preventing homelessness happening in the first place, and reduces the need for people to go into emergency or temporary accommodation. It also aims to deliver better outcomes for single homeless people.

What this means for you

From 3 April 2018, any person or household who asks us for help if they are homeless or are at risk of being homeless receives support under the new rules. This means that:

  • you can ask us for help up to 56 days before you think you might become homeless
  • if you're facing homelessness, we'll work with you to develop a personal housing plan - this plan sets out the steps that will help to prevent you losing your home, or to help you find another home
  • we'll support you to prevent your homelessness or help you find another home
  • we'll keep your circumstances under review, however if you do not work with us we can decide that we cannot help you further
  • you'll have the right to request a review of how we have tried to help

We must support you to resolve your homelessness, but this does not mean that we'll will accommodate you. If we're unable to stop you becoming homeless we'll assist you to find an alternative home.

If we're unable to do so and you remain homeless then those in priority need have a right to be rehoused, which is likely to be in temporary accommodation. Non-priority households will not be entitled to further help.

Helpful guidance explaining these changes can be found here:

HRA overview - GOV.UK

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Can you help?

Everyone is entitled to housing advice and information about homelessness, and preventing homelessness. This is available free of charge to everyone in Luton.

Our advice will include information on:

  • preventing homelessness
  • securing accommodation if homeless
  • the rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • any help that is available for people who are homeless or likely to become homeless, as well as how to access that help

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Am I eligible?

If you need further help, then we’ll need to decide if you’re eligible. We’ll need to look at:

  • what your immigration status is
  • if you’re normally resident in the UK

If you're ‘not eligible’ you'll be given advice about how you can find other accommodation. We’ll put you in contact with other organisations that may be able to help you.

If you have dependent or vulnerable family members, we're likely to refer you to social services who will assess your needs more closely.

Helpful guidance is available here:

Visas and immigration - GOV.UK

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Assessments and personalised housing plans

If you're eligible we'll carry out an assessment of your circumstances if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

This will identify what has caused your homelessness or threat of homelessness. We'll assess what your housing needs are and any support needs you may have, in order to be able to secure and retain accommodation.

We'll work with you to develop a personalised housing plan which will include the actions (or ‘reasonable steps’) to be taken by us and by you to try to prevent or relieve your homelessness.

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Duty to refer

What is the duty to refer?

The Homeless Reduction Act 2017 introduced a new requirement on certain named public bodies to notify the council of services users who they think are homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days, to a local authority of the service users choice.

The following public authorities have the duty to refer:

  • prisons
  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentres in England
  • social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

I am part of an organisation, how can I refer someone?

If you are part of an organisation, whether it is specified above or not, please fill in the form below to refer somebody and send to dutytorefer@luton.gov.uk.

Duty to refer form- Luton Council

Upon receipt of a referral, we'll investigate and establish whether the client should submit a full housing application.

Read duty to refer guidance

 

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Our duties to you

Prevention duty

’We will take reasonable steps to help you if you are threatened with homelessness. We’ll do everything that we can to help you to remain in your current home (if it is safe to do so). If we’re unable to keep you in your home we’ll try to help you to secure an alternative.

The prevention duty usually continues for 56 days unless it’s brought to an end by an event such as accommodation being secured for you, or by you becoming homeless.

Relief duty

If you're already homeless, or become homeless despite steps taken during the prevention stage, we'll focus on continuing to help you to secure accommodation. This relief duty lasts for 56 days unless it is ended in another way.

If we have reason to believe you may be eligible for assistance and have a priority need we'll provide you with interim accommodation while we continue to work with you to find a new home.

Main housing duty

If homelessness is not successfully prevented or relieved, we'll owe you what is called the main housing duty if you're:

  • still eligible
  • have a priority need for accommodation
  • not homeless intentionally

Under the main housing duty, we must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for you and your household until the duty is brought to an end. This can be ended in several ways such as an offer of suitable accommodation in the private sector.

The duty can also be brought to an end for other reasons, for example as a result of you turning down a suitable offer of temporary accommodation or because you are no longer eligible for assistance.

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Am I a priority?

You’re considered to be in priority need if:

  • you have dependent children living with you or who might reasonably be expected to live with you
  • someone you live with is pregnant
  • are vulnerable as a result of old age
  • have a mental illness or physical disability or other special reason, or someone who lives with you, or would normally live with you is vulnerable for these reasons
  • are 16 or 17 years of age
  • are homeless as a result of flood, fire or other disaster
  • are aged 18 to 20 and leaving care
  • are vulnerable as a result of leaving prison or the armed services

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Investigation in to why you’re homeless

Open this tab to find out more about the investigation we carry out to find out why you’re homeless.

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Temporary accommodation

While we look in more detail at your homeless application, we may provide you with temporary accommodation.

But we don’t own many empty houses or flats, so it’s much more likely that you’ll go to another type of property for a time.​

More about temporary accommodation

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I’m not happy with the decision you've made

If you don't think the decision we've made about your situation or the housing accommodation you've been offered is correct, you can ask us to review that decision. Expand this tab to find out how.

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Target groups and advice

We have a responsibility to help particular types of people including:

  • those who are leaving prison
  • ex-armed forces personnel
  • those who are being discharged from hospital
  • care leavers
  • people suffering from mental health
  • anyone suffering from domestic abuse

Expand this tabs below to find out how we can help people from these groups.

Leaving prison

If you’re leaving prison and are homeless or threatened with homelessness, then you may want to seek advice and support from our Housing Solutions service - contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

How we can help

We’ll help to identify your support needs and work with you to relieve your homelessness by developing a personal housing plan. This will identify actions that need to be carried out by yourself and us. It may include:

  • engaging with organisations that help ex-offenders
  • looking for suitable private rented accommodation
What to bring to your housing appointment

We’ll need to determine if you’re eligible for assistance. If you’re offered an appointment you must bring with you:

  • valid passport
  • full birth certificate
  • valid immigration documents (if applicable)

Also, you will need to provide a risk assessment from your probation officer if you have one.

Ex-armed forces personnel

If you're a former member of the armed forces who is now homeless, or if you're planning to leave the armed forces and facing the threat of becoming homeless, you may wish to approach the Housing Solutions service for assistance and advice. Contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

If you approach us for assistance, we'll consider:

  • how long you were in the armed forces and what role you had
  • whether you spent any time in a military hospital
  • if you've been issued a medical history release form and released from service on medical grounds
  • how long it's been since you left the armed services
  • whether you've been able to find and maintain your own accommodation since leaving the armed forces
  • your existing support networks
Housing register applications

If you make a housing register application you may qualify under the armed forces local residence exceptions.

Hospital discharge

If you're homeless or threatened with homelessness and are due to be discharged from hospital soon, it's important that you inform hospital staff immediately. They'll be able to arrange for appropriate support.

An assessment will take place in order to determine whether you:

  • are genuinely homeless
  • have a priority need for rehousing consideration
  • are otherwise significantly more vulnerable than an average person
  • locally connected to Luton

We're able to give housing advice and provide you with the best suited 'personal housing plan' to prevent or relieve your homelessness. We'll:

  • identify whether there is anywhere for you to return to or negotiate for your return if possible
  • work with you to obtain settled housing
  • discuss your options for housing and work with you to prevent homelessness
  • work with a range of other agencies to assess whether you are likely to need help living independently - this may include the involvement on an occupational therapist to determine your housing needs

If hostel, refuge or other forms of temporary accommodation are required, we'll identify the most suitable options and search for availability.

Care leavers

If you're a care leaver with a local connection to Luton, you may be able to get help with housing, although this will be dependent on your age and circumstances.

The vast majority of care leavers in Luton should not need to approach a homeless service as this will be prevented by a planned move to independence with your personal advisor from the Leaving Care team.

You may be offered short term supported housing to gain the skills to live independently and then be moved on into independent accommodation.

In some cases, if your personal advisor believes that you already have the skills to manage your own home, we may help you to move into your own independent accommodation.

However there are circumstances in which you may not meet all of the criteria.

Mental health

Mental ill-health can affect anyone, and people threatened with homelessness or sleeping rough face adverse weather conditions, fear and isolation. All of these can contribute to decreased mental health

We work with other relevant statutory and non-statutory service providers to take reasonable steps to prevent your homelessness and provide you with meaningful support.

There are several local organisations and mental health service that can help.

Mental health services on Luton Directory

Domestic abuse

If you’re suffering from domestic abuse, there is help available. We’ll give you advice on what to do if you are unable to stay in your home because of domestic abuse. Contact the Housing Solutions team - details at the bottom of the page.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse includes any incident of violence, threatening or controlling behaviour. The abuse can be psychological, physical, social, financial, or emotional. Domestic abuse can happen between two people who are or were intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

If you’re in fear of a partner, ex-partner or member of your family, you might be experiencing domestic abuse.

What help is available?

If you’re a woman you can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

If you’re a man experiencing domestic abuse you can contact the Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

If you're in a same-sex relationship you can call the National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline (GALOP) on 0800 999 5428.

  • Police (emergency): 999
  • Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
  • Childline: 0800 1111

All these services offer you the opportunity to talk confidentially to someone about your situation and find out what your options are. There's a wide range of support available including:

  • advocacy
  • safety planning
  • peer support
  • safety measures in the home
  • children’s therapeutic interventions

They also offer a programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse who want help in changing their behaviour.

You can apply to Luton for assistance to remain safely in your home. These include options like:

  • carrying out safety work such as:
    • new locks
    • fire proof letter boxes
    • personal alarm system
  • looking at what legal action you can take against the perpetrator such as injunctions or other orders to keep them away

If it's not safe for you to remain in your home we'll give you advice and assistance to find somewhere else to live, and in some cases you may be entitled to emergency accommodation.

You may be asked for supporting evidence, which could include details and dates of incidents. You can bring a friend or an adviser with you for support.

You're strongly advised not to give up your home permanently until you've spoken to an adviser and considered all your options.

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Rough sleeping initiative

The national rough sleeping strategy 2018 sets out the ambition to end rough sleeping by 2027. Open this tab to find out how we've introduced a rough sleeping initiative (RSI) in Luton.

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Useful links

Open this tab to find links to documents and websites that may be helpful in your situation.
 

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Contact info
Housing Solutions team
Luton Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 510370

homelessprevention@luton.gov.uk
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