People often ask “I am homeless: will the council house me?” The answer is that the council you approach will have a duty to secure accommodation for you, if you are homeless, eligible and have a priority need for accommodation.
You are considered to have priority need for accommodation if you:
- are homeless as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster
- or any members of your household are pregnant or have dependent children who live with you who are 16 or under or 17 to 19 and in full-time education
- are 16 or 17 years old
- have been in care (i.e. a children’s home or foster home) and you are under 21 or over 21 but vulnerable as a result of having been in care
- or any members of your household are vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap, physical disability or other special reason
- are vulnerable as a result of leaving your home due to domestic or non-domestic violence or threats of such violence or
- are vulnerable as a result of having been in the armed forces or prison.
The local authority you approach will have a duty to find somewhere for you to stay for only a limited time. If you have a priority need for accommodation but are homeless because you failed to:
- pay your rent or
- were asked to move out because of any other seemingly unreasonable behaviourIt is unlikely if you are between 18 and 25 years old that you would be identified as having a priority need for housing but it is important that you still go to your local council as they will be able to undertake a housing assessment and direct you to the best service to help you.
Advice before leaving home
Leaving home is a big step, but moving out is easier if you make some preparations before you go.
- Talk to your family about leaving home
- Try to sort out some money and a place to live before you leave
- If you are under the age of 18, you may not be able to claim any benefits
- Don’t rush out the door
- Don’t feel you have to move before you’re ready. But if you don’t feel safe at home, or if your parents tell you to leave, get advice on what to do next.
Think about the practicalities of leaving home and getting your own place (rent, bills, doing your own washing and cleaning and so on) as well as all the good things. If you know anyone who has recently left home, talk to them about their experiences.
16 & 17 year olds
If you are aged 16 or 17 and threatened with homelessness you should attend your local council office. Each of Worcestershire’s 6 District Councils has a Youth Homeless Pathway Service. This is normally delivered by a specialist worker who can work with you to do everything possible to help prevent you being made homeless or if this is not possible or appropriate to look at alternative housing options for you. This will involve a joint assessment by children’s services if you become homeless.
If you have already become homeless you should contact children’s services on 0845 607 2000. Because you are 16/17 a specialist homeless pathway needs to be followed, this will involve you being jointly assessed by children’s and housing services to go through the options available to you. The social worker needs to be there because you are under 18 and legally still a child.
The council where you usually live is the one that has a duty to help you. In an emergency, you can go to any council in England but you might later be referred back to your original area if it’s safe to do so.
Will they make me go home?
Children’s services or the homelessness department will talk to your family to see if you can go home, but they shouldn’t do this if it would make things worse. You may be offered ‘family mediation’ to try and improve the relationship with your family. You can still be housed while this happens. They can’t force you to live where you are not safe.
What kind of place will I get?
You could be offered a place with a foster family, in a hostel for young people or in more independent accommodation. Your wishes must be taken into account but you might not get exactly what you want. The accommodation must be suitable for your needs. Get independent advice if you’re not happy with what they offer you. Services that can offer you independent advice are
The Basement Project Mediation Service – 01527 832993
The Homeless Foundation Advocacy service – 07000 563 455
Shelter – 0808 800 4444
Support from children’s services
If children’s services become responsible for you, they can:
- Pay for your accommodation and your living costs
- Provide you with a personal adviser to advise and support you
- Help you make a plan for the future, which will cover education, training and employment. This is known as a ‘pathway plan’.
What happens after I turn 18?
If you have been ‘looked after’ by children’s services for at least 13 weeks between the ages of 14 and 18 including at least one day after your 16th birthday, some of their duties, including providing you with a personal adviser, could continue until you are 21 or 25 if you remain in education or training.