Homelessness and Housing Advice

Advice for Prisoners

Housing advice for those due to be released from prison

Q – I will be homeless on release. Can I get help from the council?

If you are going to be homeless upon release from prison, you should speak with the prison’s supporting service as soon as possible and ask them to make a referral to the Council on your behalf. It is best to contact us before leaving prison so we can gather as much information as possible regarding your circumstances to provide you with the most appropriate advice.

If you are going to be homeless within 56 days then the Council will take a homeless application, but this doesn’t mean that we will be able to provide you with accommodation when you are released as this will depend on your individual circumstances.

You will not be considered a priority just because you have been in prison. You will need to provide evidence of vulnerability. Prison and probation staff may be able to support your application. Even if the council decides that you are vulnerable due to time spent in prison, it may decide that you became intentionally homeless by committing a serious crime in the first place.

If the council accepts that you are eligible for assistance, in priority need and homeless, we will provide temporary accommodation whilst we discharge our duties.

For more information about homelessness, visit the SHELTER website. www.shelter.org.uk

Q – My licence conditions mean that I cannot return home. What are my options?

You should speak to your offender manager before you are released if your licence conditions mean that you cannot return home. In some cases, you might be referred to approved premises (i.e. a probation hostel), but places are very limited and are generally reserved for those who are considered high risk and are under multiagency public protection arrangements (MAPPA).

Q – I am eligible to be released on home detention curfew (tag). Where can I get help with finding suitable accommodation?

If you are eligible to be released on tag, your Offender Manager will need to approve the accommodation to ensure that it meets your sentence or licence conditions. The Council cannot provide accommodation to allow you to be released from prison.

Q – What are my Housing Options?

Social housing

If possible, prior to release, complete a housing application for social housing via the B-with-us website. B-with-us is the sub-regional choice based lettings scheme to which Hyndburn Borough Council is a partner. http://www.b-with-us.com/

There is shortage of social housing and it is unlikely you would receive an offer before being released from prison.

Family and friends

Many people leaving prison return to family or friends, at least in the short term. If your relationships with family and friends have broken down, it is possible to rebuild bridges, perhaps with the help of prison staff. If your family and friends can see that you have made progress in prison, perhaps in terms of addressing past issues, then they might be more prepared to help you on release. It is very difficult to secure housing on release as waiting lists are long, so it is very important not to dismiss this as an option.

Hostels

There are no direct access hostels or night shelters in the Hyndburn Borough that you can access in an emergency. Homeless Link have details of hostels and accommodation schemes across the country. https://www.homeless.org.uk/search-homelessness-services

Private Renting

The main advantage of private rented accommodation is that you will have a greater degree of choice in terms of location and type of property. Private rented accommodation is an obvious choice if you have some savings. It is also something that your family and friends can help you to look for and, where possible and necessary, lend money for in order to secure a property.

You may also wish to start looking at suitable private renting options on websites such as ‘Right Move’ or ‘Spare Room.’

Q – I don’t want to return to my local area. What are my options?

If you don’t want to return to the local authority area you lived in prior to going to prison, get advice before you leave prison on what options might be available in the area you want to move to.

Under the homeless legislation, if you go to an area where you do not have a connection, the local authority does not have to accept a duty towards you and can refer you back to an area where you do have a connection.

Your best option might be to return to your local area for a couple of months and make a planned move.

Help with Housing Costs

If you are receiving a state benefit or on a low income once released from prison, you can apply for help towards your rent. In Hyndburn this will be through Universal Credit for working age people unless you live in supported housing.

If you are looking to rent a private rented property, the maximum amount of help you can get is set by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). If you are under 35, you will only be able to get rent to cover you for a room in a shared house. Please see LHA rate on Hyndburn Council’s website. https://www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/housing-benefit-and-council-tax-support-2/3/