Help for Homeless Households

This page is still under construction and subject to further change.



Housing Act (Wales) 2014


From 27th April 2015, councils across Wales will have new responsibilities to help homeless people. 


This page will outline some of the main parts of the new act.  It will tell you what help you can expect from Swansea if you are homeless, will have to leave your home in the near future, or it isn't reasonable for your to continue to live in your home.



"I may have to leave my home soon"


You may have a home right now, but if you have been asked to leave or can't stay there much longer, you may be 'threatened with homelessness'.  This means it is likely that you will not have a home within the next 56 days. 


If the council think you may be homeless within 56 days you will normally be invited to speak with a caseworker. This could be in person at the Housing Options office or by another means, for example via the telephone.


From 27th April 2015 the Council must take 'all reasonable steps' to prevent your homelessness from happening.


This could mean the Council will help you to keep your current home or find you an alternative suitable home such as a private rented tenancy.


You will be expected to work with a caseworker and follow their advice and guidance to prevent you losing your home. They may speak with someone such as the person who wants you to leave and negotiate for you to stay there for a short while, or for a longer period. 


You may be referred to a support worker to help you manage your current home if necessary.


You may be asked to change the ways you currently spend household money or how you receive it. (For example arranging for housing costs to be paid direct to a landlord). 


Your casework may also arrange for some other short term arrangements or use other resources to help keep you in your home or help you move to a new one.


If you think you need help to stop you losing your home, you should contact Housing Options on 01792 533100 urgently for further advice.


The earlier you contact Housing Options, the better the chances of preventing the homelessness from occuring. 



"I have already lost my home and have nowhere else to go"


If you have already lost your home and have nowhere else you can stay then you may be homeless.  This means the council may have to take 'all reasonable steps' to help you find a new home. 


You will agree with your caseworker which steps you will take and which steps they will take.


These could include:


  • An offer of suitable accommodation with a private landlord
  • An offer of suitable accommodation with support
  • An offer of suitable social housing
  • Help for you to move into a suitable home that you have found yourself
  • Working with support workers

Any other actions that your casework agrees with you to help you find a new home must also be followed. 


This help could last for up to 56 days from when you become homeless. 


 



"What happens if I'm still homeless after 56 days?"


The Council expects to find solutions for the majority of homeless households before they become homeless, or within 56 days from they point they have become homeless, even if the housing was an offer of suitable private rented housing or a place with a supported housing scheme. 


If the Council have not been able to find a solution and you have done everything that the Council have asked you to do whilst you try to find a new home, then the Council has to decide if they must continue helping you. 


If you have refused offers of suitable housing, or not followed the list of actions you have been asked to undertake to help you find suitable housing then you may not be entitled to further help. 


If you have done everthing that you have been asked to do by your caseworker and have still not been able to find suitable housing, then the Council will make enquiries to decide if you are in one of the 'Priority Need' groups, and if there is no other good reason for your homelessness other than something you have done (or should have done) which has resulted in you becoming homeless.


If your caseworker is satisfied that you are in one of the 'Priority Need' groups and are not homeless intentionally, then you will continue to be assisted in looking for a new home.



"Where can I stay if I have nowehere to live?"


If you have nowhere safe to stay, the Council will do all they can to try and find you somewhere to stay on a temporary basis whilst you are working with the council to find a longer term solution to your housing problems. 


This may be finding a space in a hostel, supported housing, with friends or family, or temporarily returning to your previous home.


If you may be eligible, homeless and  in one of the 'Priority Need' groups and the Council cannot find a solution for you in the short or medium term, then they may provide other forms for temporary housing such as a B&B or temporary flat with support.  B&B is considered a last resort, and alternative short or longer term housing will be offered as soon as possible.  The Council will let you know when it has decided that it no longer has to continue providing accommodation to you.  


The Council may ask you to leave temporary accommodation for a number of reasons, these could include


  • Breaching the terms of your occupation agreement
  • You have refused offers of accommodation (including private rented properties)
  • You have made yourself homeless intentionally
  • You have not done everything your caseworker has asked you to do
  • You have suitable housing available to you somewhere else.


"Who can I talk to if I think the Council haven't done all that they should be doing?"


It is important to remember that when you ask the Council for help, your caseworker will offer help and advice, and make decisions about your housing circumstances on behalf of the Council.


Sometimes they may misunderstand your circumstances, or not be aware of the full facts.  You should always be open and honest with your caseworker. Sometimes circumstances change as well, and you should make sure that they know of any changes as soon as they happen. 


If you think your caseworker isn't doing what they should be doing, you should contact the Housing Options office and ask them to give reasons for this.  Your caseworker should always explain any decisions clearly to you if the Council is doing, or not doing something for you.


If you think you have a cause for complaint that can't be resolved with your caseworker directly, then you can speak to someone in Housing Options about the complaints procedure, however, this is only if you have a complaint about the way you have been treated by members of staff. 


If you think the decisions that have been made about your homelessness are wrong, then you can challenge the Council about this and ask them to look at it again.


You can ask for any decision about your homelessness to be looked at again by a senior officer (if you ask within 21 days of the decision being made). It is helpful if you put this request in writing and offer as much information explaining why you think the Council have not done all they could or have made the wrong decision about your housing.  You can keep a copy of what you have given to the Council for future reference then.


You may not be confident in asking the Council to do this yourself, or if you have a particularly complicated set of circumstances, you may want professional independent advice from someone else such as Shelter Cymru, Citizens' Advice Bureau or a solicitor.


If you think the decision is still wrong then you can ask a judge in court to decide if this decision is correct.  A professional independent adviser will tell you the process for this, and whether they think there is a chance of success.