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Homelessness

Homelessness

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

Homelessness or risk of being made homeless

You may be considered as homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness if:

  • You are being evicted from your home
  • You have been asked to leave by friends or family
  • You have to leave your home due to violence or threats of violence
  • You can’t stay in your home due to fire or flood
  • You are sleeping on the streets
         

How we can help

We want to support you as soon as possible. We can help you with a range of options, including:


What to bring to your homelessness appointment

If you come to see us at the council offices, or we speak to you on the phone, and then arrange an appointment with you, bring the following information with you:

  • Proof of ID (identification) for you and all your household members 
  • Proof of your current address or last settled address
  • Your 5 year address history
  • Proof of your household income (payslips, benefit award letters)
  • Your last 3 months' bank statements
  • Proof of any health or medical needs for you and members of your household

If you are threatened with homelessness from your current privately rented property then also bring:

  • Your Section 21 (Form 6a) notice or Section 8 notice
  • Confirmation that your deposit has been protected (if applicable) and
  • Any other tenancy related documents that have been issued to you by your landlord or agent (e.g. Energy Performance Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate, the ‘How to rent checklist’ etc.)

Report a homeless person

If you are aware of someone sleeping rough in the Borough, let us know by sending an alert to StreetLink. The details you provide will be sent to us. We will use the information to find the individual, offer them support, and explore ways to find them accommodation.

Contact us for help

Emergency accommodation during severe weather

Rough sleepers in Wokingham can access emergency accommodation during periods of severe weather. The SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) will be activated in Wokingham if the temperature is forecast to fall below 0 degrees Celsius for 3 nights or more, or in other significant severe weather conditions.

When the SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) has been activated or deactivated, relevant partner agencies will be notified and anybody who we know is sleeping rough will be contacted, or located, so that we can make an offer of emergency accommodation.

We will try to secure emergency accommodation in the Wokingham Borough. Sometimes this is not always possible and we may have to provide emergency accommodation out of the Borough.

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

If you are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and you are suffering from a mental illness or learning disability, contact us immediately. You can also ask your health care provider or your social worker to make a referral direct to any housing authority on your behalf as long as you consent to this. This is called a Duty to Refer referral.

We will assess your situation and work with you to create a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation.

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days. If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you are homeless, we will refer you to the local authority where you do have a local connection, if it is safe to do so.

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • A referral to supported accommodation. If you are not ready to live independently, you may be referred to supported accommodation, where you may be offered support to develop the emotional and practical skills you will need to live independently in the future
  • A referral to appropriate services who may be able to make your current accommodation safe for you to return to by making appropriate adaptations
  • Staying with family or friends. We will encourage you to speak to family and friends to see if they are able to accommodate you
  • Private rented accommodation - You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlords / agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing - You can complete a Housing Needs registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough. You may also qualify to be considered for sheltered accommodation or extra care accommodation, depending on your needs

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation while we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need as you are vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness, learning disability or physical disability.

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

If you are at risk of homelessness once you leave care, then your Personal Adviser should make contact with our Housing Needs team so that we can look at how we can assist you to secure accommodation.

We will assess your situation and work with you to create a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation.

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days.

Local connection

You will have a local connection to Wokingham as a Care Leaver if:

  • You are owed leaving care duties by Wokingham’s children’s services
  • You are a care leaver under the age of 21 and you are owed leaving care duties  by another local authority and while you were in care you were placed outside their area and spent at least 2 years living in Wokingham including some time before you turned 16
     

If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you are homeless, we will refer you to the local authority where you do have a local connection, if it is safe to do so.

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • A referral to supported accommodation - If you are not ready to live independently, you may be referred to supported accommodation, where you may be offered support to develop the emotional and practical skills you will need to live independently in the future
  • Private rented accommodation - You might be ready to live independently and might want to look for privately rented accommodation. You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlords / agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing - You can complete a Housing Needs registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough. As a care leaver you will be placed into Band 2 if you do have a housing need

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation while we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need.

You may be considered to be in priority need if you are a Care Leaver aged 18 to 21.

If you are a Care Leaver and you are over 21 years old, we may offer emergency accommodation if we assess you as being in priority need. We will consider:

  • How long you were looked after, accommodated or fostered for
  • Whether or not you have had a stable home since you left care
  • If you have slept rough in the past

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

Explore housing options before you leave

You should start exploring your housing options as soon as you know you are going to be leaving the regular Armed Forces.

6 months before you leave the forces, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will give you a Certificate of Cessation of Entitlement with the date that you will stop being entitled to Forces Accommodation. You should start looking for alternative accommodation immediately once you receive it.

Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)

You can contact the JSHAO (Joint Service Housing Advice Office) for advice on your civilian housing options at any time during your career. You can call the JSHAO on 01252 787 574 or you can attend one of their civilian housing options briefs delivered across the UK, Germany and Cyprus each year.

The JSHAO also runs the MOD (Ministry of Defence) referral scheme which may help you to find a housing association home. You can apply if you are:

  • Married or a separated spouse still in Services family accommodation
  • Single and living in a hostel within 6 months of leaving the regular Armed Forces
  • Homeless or at risk of homelessness
  

Contact us if you can't find accommodation

Contact us if you have not been able to secure alternative accommodation and you are going to be leaving regular Armed Forces accommodation within 56 days. We will assess your situation and work with you to create a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation. 

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days. If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you are homeless, we will refer you to the local authority where you do have a local connection, if it is safe to do so.

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • Staying with family or friends. We will encourage you to speak to family and friends to see if they are able to accommodate you
  • Private rented accommodation - You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlords / agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing - You can complete a Housing Needs registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough
            

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation whilst we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need. You may be considered to be in priority need if you were in the Armed Forces.

We will make enquiries to see if you are vulnerable as a result of:

  • The length of time you have spent in the Armed Forces
  • The type of service you were part of
  • Spending any time in a military hospital
  • The length of time since you left the Armed Forces and whether you have been able to obtain and maintain accommodation during that time
  • Not having the right support in place to help you adjust to civilian life
         

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Other useful contacts

  • Haig Housing - This charity is the leading provider of rental housing for ex – service people. Haig Housing has over 1,5000 properties across 50 locations. Visit the Haig Housing website or call 020 8685 5777
  • SPACES (Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services) - This organisation provides housing advice and access to a national network of supported housing options for veterans with a range of needs. Visit the SPACES website or call 01748 833 797
  • SSAFA (Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Families Association) – the Armed Forces Charity - This charity provides advice and assistance to those eligible for help across a range of issues including housing advice and facilities. Visit the SSAFA website or call 0800 731 4880
  • Stoll Housing - This organisation provides supported accommodation for veterans with support needs such as physical disability, mental health issues, substance misuse issues, homelessness or ongoing health conditions. Visit the Stoll Housing website or call 020 7385 2110
  • Veterans Aid - This charity provides immediate, practical support to all ex – armed forces personnel who are homeless, facing homelessness or in crisis. Visit the Veterans Aid website or call 0800 012 6867
  • Veterans Gateway - This organisation provides information and support for Veterans who are applying for any housing scheme, help with deposits, buying a home in the UK and finding supported accommodation. Visit the Veterans Gateway website or call 0808 801 0880

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to domestic violence, then contact our Housing Needs team immediately.  

We will assess your situation and will complete a DASH (Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour based violence) risk assessment with you to ensure that we are taking into account the safety of you and your household. If it is not safe for you to return to your accommodation or you have already become homeless due to domestic abuse, we will work with you to create a personalised housing plan. This plan will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation. We will also ask you if you would like to be referred to appropriate support agencies who can provide you with advice and assistance during this time.

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days. 

Local connection

If you are homeless as a result of domestic abuse you do not need to have a local connection with the Borough that you present to. If you are at risk of domestic abuse in the Wokingham Borough, we may decide to refer you to another housing authority where you will be safe. 

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • A referral to a local or national refuge where you will be given lots of practical and emotional support
  • A referral to appropriate services who may be able to make your current accommodation safe for you to return to or they may be able to help you take legal action so that you are able to return safely
  • Staying with family or friends. We will encourage you to speak to family and friends to see if they are able to accommodate you
  • Private rented accommodation - You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlords / agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing. - You can complete a Housing Needs registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough
            

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation while we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need due to the risk of actual violence against you and your households or the risk of threatened violence against you and your household. 

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

Other useful contacts

  • Thames Valley Police - If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or you know someone who is, call 999 now. In non – emergency cases visit the Thames Valley Police website or call 101.
  • Berkshire Women’s Aid - Provides confidential support, information, outreach services and refuge accommodation for women and children who are affected by domestic abuse and violence. They also provide confidential support, information and outreach services to men who have experienced domestic abuse and violence. Visit the Berkshire Women’s Aid website or call 0118 950 4003    

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness and you are being discharged from hospital, then please contact our Housing Needs team immediately. You can also ask your health care provider to make a referral direct to any housing authority on your behalf as long as you consent to this. This is called a Duty to Refer referral.

If you are still waiting to be discharged from hospital, we may be able to come and assess you on the ward. We will assess your situation and work with you to create a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation. 

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days. If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you are homeless, we will refer you to the local authority where you do have a local connection, if it is safe to do so.

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • A referral to appropriate services who may be able to make your current accommodation safe for you to return to by making appropriate adaptations
  • Staying with family or friends. We will encourage you to speak to family and friends to see if they are able to accommodate you
  • Private rented accommodation - You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlords / agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing - You can complete a Housing Needs registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough. You may also qualify to be considered for sheltered accommodation or extra care accommodation depending on your needs

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation whilst we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need as you are vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness, learning disability or physical disability.

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

If you are likely to be homeless when you are released from prison or a youth detention centre, start to explore your housing options as soon as possible. You should contact your Prison Resettlement Worker as they will be able to provide you with support and guidance on a range of resettlement issues including education, healthcare, employment, training and housing.

Contact us as soon as you know that you are going to be homeless or threatened with homelessness. We will assess your situation and work with you to create a personalised housing plan which will set out the steps you need to take to find accommodation and the steps that we will take to help you find accommodation.

If you are working with the Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) or the Youth Offending team, we will work with them to help to identify any support needs that you may have.

If you are already homeless, we will owe you the Relief Duty. The Relief Duty will last for 56 days. If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you are homeless, we will refer you to the local authority where you do have a local connection, if it is safe to do so.

If you are released on licence

You might be given accommodation in a probation hostel if:

  • Your sentence was for 12 months or more
  • You have multi – agency involvement (MAPPA - Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) with your case
  • The Probation Service should arrange your probation hostel in time for your release. Even if you are not required to live in a probation hostel you may have licence conditions that restrict where you can live. Ask the Probation Service about any restrictions that may apply to you
  

If you have been asked to leave your probation hostel and have no accommodation to go to, contact us immediately.

Your housing options

Your housing options could include:

  • Staying with family or friends. We will encourage you to speak to family and friends to see if they are able to accommodate you
  • Private rented accommodation - You should consider the size and type of accommodation you need for your household and how much rent you can afford. If you are on a low income, then you can apply for Universal Credit to help you with your rent cost. Most landlord/ agents will require a deposit. You should use any savings that you may have for this. If you do not have any savings we may be able to assist you with a deposit loan
  • Applying for social housing - You can complete a Housing Register registration form so that you can be considered for social housing in the Borough
         

Emergency accommodation

You may be entitled to emergency accommodation whilst we owe you the Relief Duty if we assess you as being in priority need.

You may be considered to be in priority need if you are vulnerable as a result of having served a custodial sentence or having been in custody.

We will make enquiries to see if you are vulnerable as a result of:

  • Your time in custody
  • Your support needs - we will look at any support you receive from Probation Services/ Youth Offending Team
  • The length of time since you left prison and whether you have been able to obtain and maintain accommodation during that time

If we have not been able to bring the Relief Duty to an end by helping you to find accommodation, we will then issue you with a final decision. If we owe you the full housing duty, your emergency accommodation will continue until we are able to help you secure suitable housing.

Contact us for help

If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact us as soon as possible by:

Advice and assistance for vulnerable groups

We are required to provide advice and information to meet the needs of the following vulnerable groups within the Borough who might be homeless or threatened with homelessness:

  • People released from prison or youth detention centres
  • Care leavers
  • Former members of the regular armed forces
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • People leaving hospital
  • People suffering from a mental illness or learning disability

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force on 3 April 2018. The Act means that we have to do more to assist you if you become homeless or are threatened with homeless at an earlier stage. The Act has 2 new duties: the Prevention Duty and the Relief Duty.       

The Prevention Duty

In the Prevention Duty we have to support you if you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days. This means if you are served a valid Section 21 you will be provided with support to try and prevent you from becoming homeless and losing your accommodation. 

We will carry out an assessment of your needs and will create with you a personalised housing plan which will include steps you need to take and steps we need to take to stop you from becoming homeless. 

The Relief Duty

If you become homeless, you will be owed the relief duty.  We have to provide you with support to try and find suitable accommodation for up to 56 days. This is regardless of whether you are intentionally homeless or if you are not in priority need. 

We will carry out an assessment of you needs and will create with you a personalised housing plan which will include steps you need to take and steps we need to take to relieve your homelessness.

Local connection

If you do not have a local connection to Wokingham and you have become homeless, we will make a local connection referral to the Borough where you do have a local connection to, as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

In order to have a local connection to the borough you must:

  • Normally reside within the Borough and have done so for 6 of the last 12 months or 3 of the last 5 years
  • Have employment in the Borough
  • Have close family members resident in the Borough who have been resident for 5 years

Temporary accommodation

If you are owed the Relief Duty and you are in priority need we will provide you with temporary accommodation. There is a weekly rent charge for this and you may be able to meet some of this cost through Housing Benefit.

You may be considered to be in priority need if:

  • You have dependent children
  • You are pregnant
  • You are a care leaver aged 18 to 21
  • You are aged 16 or 17 years old ( in most cases Children’s Services must make sure you have a safe place to live)
  • You are an older person
  • You are vulnerable as a result of a physical or learning disability or mental health issues
  • You were in the armed forces
  • You are vulnerable as a result of having served a custodial sentence or having been in custody

We will try to secure temporary accommodation for you in the Wokingham Borough, but this is not always possible. If you refuse a suitable offer of accommodation, we do not have to make you another offer of accommodation.  

Final homelessness decision

When the Relief Duty ends, we need to issue you with a final homelessness decision. If you are found to be homeless unintentionally and are in priority need, we will owe you the main housing duty and will continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until you find some where to live or we find you somewhere to live.

If you are found to be intentionally homeless or not in priority need, we will owe you no further duties once the Relief Duty has ended. We are still able to offer you advice on finding your own accommodation.

The Duty to Refer

From 1 October 2018, specified public authorities have a duty to notify a housing authority of service users they consider to be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days. 

The public authorities which are subject to the Duty to Refer are:

  • Prisons
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation Services (including Community Rehabilitation Companies)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Social services
  • 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

Before making a referral, a public authority must:

  • Have consent to making the referral from the individual
  • Allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to
  • Have consent from the individual that their contact details can be supplied so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral

Referrals

Referrals can be made by completing a Duty to Refer form. Email your completed referral form to dutytorefer@wokingham.gov.uk. You will receive an automated response to acknowledge your referral and further contact once your referral has been actioned.

If you are unable to complete a referral form or you would like more information, email dutytorefer@wokingham.gov.uk or call Housing Needs on 0118 974 6756 or 0118 974 6752 during office hours.

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