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When you tell us you’re homeless or worried about becoming homeless

When you tell us you’re homeless or worried about becoming homeless

What help you can expect from us, including information about homelessness assessments and personal housing plans

How we’ll help

When you tell us you’re homeless or worried about becoming homeless within the next 8 weeks (56 days) we’ll discuss your situation and needs with you.

We may be able to help you straight away, or we’ll arrange for you to come and see us for an assessment.

As part of the assessment we'll make enquiries to determine if there's a risk that you'll become homeless. If we assess that there is a risk we’ll draw up a Personal Housing Plan with you.

Your Personal Housing Plan will list actions for both you and your Housing Advisor to take to either:

  • stop you becoming homeless
  • help you find new accommodation if you’re already homeless 

Getting a council property

You probably won’t be offered a council property, even if you’re homeless.

There are approximately 11,000 households in Bristol who are currently on the waiting list for council housing, and there are very few available council properties.

Help packs

We've created a set of help packs for you to use to find out what to do now to sort out your housing problem.

Look at the help pack that best fits your current situation. They relate to the most common causes of homelessness. If none of the help packs fits your situation, don’t worry, you can contact us and we’ll try to help you.

Bring the details of what you’ve done with you to your assessment. This will help us when we’re agreeing your Personal Housing Plan with you.

Your homelessness assessment

Your assessment will be at our Citizen Service Point. It will take between one and two hours.

You must bring proof of your:

  • identity, such as your passport or ID card
  • eviction notice and tenancy agreement, if you’ve been asked to leave by your landlord
  • income, such as bank statements, wage slips, or proof of all benefits
  • children, such as your child benefit or tax credit letter and birth certificates
  • pregnancy, such as a letter from your doctor or midwife, or your MATB1 form
  • medical conditions, such as a letter from your doctor or hospital or copies of your prescriptions
  • immigration status, such as a passport or other document that shows you have the right to live in the UK

What happens at your assessment

One of our Housing Advisors will see you at our Citizen Service Point.

They'll talk to you about your situation and you’ll work together to agree what will go into your Personal Housing Plan once the Housing Advisor has determined that you are at risk of homelessness.

It’s important for you to be open and honest at your assessment so your Housing Advisor can give you the correct advice and support.

Your Personal Housing Plan

Your Personal Housing Plan will include actions that you and your Housing Advisor will agree to take.

You may agree to:

  • contact your landlord to try to resolve particular issues
  • fill in forms, such as an income and expenditure form, which will show us how much money you spend or have coming  in
  • keep a record of any actions you’ve taken
  • be referred to other organisations for advice and support
  • contact any family or friends to ask them to let you stay temporarily

Your Housing Advisor may agree to:

  • give you advice about your rights as a tenant
  • talk to your family or friends if they’ve told you to leave
  • help you make a claim for housing benefit or discretionary housing payments
  • help you find private rented accommodation
  • refer you to other organisations for specialist advice and support, such as the NHS, welfare benefits or debt advice

You must cooperate with us

It's your responsibility to cooperate with us and do things to help yourself while we're trying to sort out your housing problem.

You must tell us if any of your circumstances change.

Our homelessness prevention and relief duties can be brought to an end if you deliberately and unreasonably:

  • refuse to work with us
  • don't carry out the tasks agreed in your Personal Housing Plan

In some circumstances, if the relief duty ends because you haven't cooperated with us we may have no further duty to help you. Even if we do still have a duty to help you, you may get less help than you would have done if you'd cooperated with us.

After your assessment

After your assessment we’ll expect you to take the actions in your Personal Housing Plan. Your Housing Advisor will also take the actions they’ve agreed to. You can contact your Housing Advisor if you have any questions.

We hope that by taking the actions in your Personal Housing Plan and with our support, you won’t become homeless, or if you’re already homeless, you’ll find a place to live.

Temporary accommodation

We might provide you with temporary accommodation while we look at your homeless application. This will depend on your personal circumstances.

Further help

If the actions in your Personal Housing Plan haven’t been successful, we may be able to help you further. We call this further help qualifying for the ‘main housing duty’.

The main housing duty is:

  • only owed to people in certain situations
  • only considered if you’re still homeless after you and your Housing Advisor have completed  the actions in your Personal Housing Plan

How you qualify for the main housing duty

To qualify for the main housing duty, all the following five conditions must apply to you.

  • You need to be eligible for help
  • You need to be legally homeless
  • You need to be in priority need
  • You need to have become homeless through no fault of your own
  • You need to have a local connection to Bristol

The Shelter website explains these conditions in more detail

If you qualify for the main housing duty

If all of the above applies to you, you could be offered a council property, but we may also arrange a private tenancy. If we arrange a private tenancy, we’ll make sure that this tenancy is for at least 12 months.

The Homelessness Reduction Act

The Homelessness Reduction Act came into effect in April 2018. This new law requires us to help prevent and relieve homelessness within 56 days.

These are new duties which we have, as well as our existing legal duty to tackle homelessness, known as the main housing duty.