I'm about to be made homeless, what should I do?
Finding the right help can be very confusing and you can sometimes feel like you are being passed from pillar to post.
"If you don't know your rights or what you're entitled to, try and find someone who does,"
says Paul who was previously homeless.
"You also need someone who knows what is available in Leicester and how to access it".
If you do not know your rights then ring or visit SHARP as they should be able to help mediate - you may be able to continue staying in your current home or they can provide you with advice and support about alternative accommodation. They can also explain your rights so you know what you are entitled to when you visit Housing Options.
Where am I going to sleep tonight?
First: relax, have a cup of tea and chat with someone who can help!
Staff at the Dawn Centre will provide support, advice, assistance and signposting to anyone who is homeless or is facing homelessness.
If you are homeless or at risk of being homeless you can go there anytime between 8am–1pm and Y-Support and the Outreach Team will be able to offer practical advice and support so that you do not have to end up sleeping on the streets.
You will need to visit Leicester City Council's Housing Options offices at Phoenix House (the staff at Y-Support and the Outreach Team can support you with this process if you are worried). Housing Options will assess your housing situation and decide if they have a legal duty to house you straight away.
Make sure you take any ID you have, to prove your age, nationality and if you are a student or not.
You need to be aware that there is no access to drinking water or toilets at Housing Options so go to the toilet before you go and take a bottle of water... but don't drink too much! You can be there for sometime.
I struggle with interviews and formal situations what should I do?
Ask for help and keep calm. If you are worried about attending a formal interview have a chat with the Outreach Team or Y-Support at the Dawn Centre before you go to Housing Options.
Alternatively, SHARP is only across the road from Housing Options and can offer you support and advice. You can also work out if you qualify for emergency housing using Shelter's simple online tool.
You can always take a friend with you, or someone to advocate on your behalf, to any Housing Options interview.
Do the council have to give me somewhere to sleep straight away?
Not necessarily. It depends on a lot of things. When you get to the housing office, you need to say, "I want to make a homeless application". If they decide you're a "priority need", you'll have to be given temporary emergency housing.
They absolutely must give you somewhere to stay if:
You're aged between 16–17: The local authority will need to carry out an assessment to see if you are a "child in need", and you will be given emergency housing while they do this.
Pregnant: You are classed as priority need and should be given emergency accommodation while they assess you.
Have dependent children: You are classed as priority need and should be given emergency accommodation while they assess you.
If you're under 21 and have been in care: You are classed as priority need and should be given emergency accommodation while they assess you.
I'm not sure if I have emergency housing rights or not?
Do not let the council fob you off. Calmly tell them it's their legal duty to house you. If this sounds daunting, think about taking a friend with you for support.
They will not give me emergency housing, where do I go next?
The council should not turn you away without providing any help. However, they may not have the details of all the alternative services that are available in the city.
"Sometimes you're given a sheet of paper with some phone numbers on it," says Frank. "You need to find someone who doesn't just push you between the services."
Where to try next:
Leicester City Council has made a choice only to refer clients to Council funded accommodation and private landlords. To access homeless accommodation provided by charities you now have to ring them directly.
Link to directory listing for:
Community of Grace
Park Lodge (age 16 - 24)
Emmaus Leicestershire and Rutland
Ring Shelter: This free helpline will give you instant practical advice on what you can do next. Call them on 0808 800 4444.
Homeless Day Centres
They do not offer emergency accommodation, but they can help you find it. Day centres will have housing advisors trained in long and short term accommodation and links with local hostels. You can also buy cheap hot food, stay warm, and get internet access. To find a local day centre, use this search tool by Homeless UK making sure you highlight "day centre" or "homeless advice" on the search form.
Look for a Nightstop scheme: If you're aged 16–25, you may be able to get onto a Nightstop scheme, which lets you stay in the safe home of a volunteer. Check to see if there's a scheme near you using the Depaul website.
Find an outreach worker: You need someone on your side who understands the housing options in your area. If you haven't been able to get through to Shelter, try letting Streetlink know about your circumstances.