If you're a serving or former member of the Armed Forces
Homeless rights for ex-forces
You may qualify for help from the council if you are a former member of the Armed Forces and are homeless or threatened with homelessness. In addition, you will have to prove to the council that you are eligible for housing assistance, and have not made yourself intentionally homeless.
Subject to you satisfying these criteria, the council has to help you with both emergency and longer-term accommodation if it is accepted that you are homeless and in priority need for accommodation.
The council must consider if it can help you using both general rules that apply to everyone and special rules that apply to people who were in the forces.
General rules for people in priority need
It can be easier to get help if you qualify under the general rules for people in priority need, for example if you have dependent children or are pregnant.
The council should also look to see if you are vulnerable in some way. This may involve showing how a disability, mental health problem, addiction or other issue effects your ability to secure housing for yourself compared with other people who are homeless.
Extra homelessness rules for the Armed Forces
You should also be treated as being vulnerable and therefore in priority need for accommodation if you can show that your vulnerability is as a result of being a former member of the armed forces.
When deciding this, the council may consider:
- how long you were in the forces and what role you had
- if you spent any time in a military hospital
- if you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a medical history release form)
- if you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left
- how long it has been since you left service
To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the Ministry of Defence, including a medical history release form (if you were given one). It can be hard to establish that you are vulnerable.
You may need to seek independent legal advice or help from a specialist agency to make representations on your behalf if this council decides that you do not meet the criteria set out above, and therefore it does not owe a duty to you to provide you with accommodation.
Re-housing in the area of your base
To be accepted as homeless in the local council area where you were based, you must be able to show that you have a local connection with the local council where your base was situated.
You may be able to show a local connection with that area if you:
- currently work in the area
- have lived in the area for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years
- live with a partner who currently works in the area
If you have left the forces and are not yet working for another employer in the area, you won't be able to show a local connection through working in the area. However, you may still be able to show that you have a local connection as the time you spent living or working in the area may still count.
You should also consider if you are able to show a local connection with this or another local council area where you have close family connections.
You don't need to have a local connection to apply to go on the 'Under One Roof' scheme if you are serving in the armed forces or left in the last five years.
Applying for homelessness before discharge from the forces
Contact the Housing Options and Advice Service if you think you will be homeless after discharge from the services. The council should not wait until you are made homeless before it helps you.
Upon the production of a letter of discharge or some other evidence that confirms the date of your discharge from the forces, the council should accept that from the date of discharge you will become homeless.
In the event that you have not sought any housing assistance from this council before your discharge from the forces, you may need to stay in your accommodation as long as possible and wait for Defence Estates to evict you.
Defence Estates have to give you a 'notice to vacate' before they can take you to court in order that they can obtain a possession order. You can use any notice to vacate and any possession order that is obtained against you as evidence in support of your homelessness application.
Ex-forces and single, homeless and on the streets
Many single homeless people don't qualify for help from the council or any other local authority.
There are a range of services for people who find themselves homeless and on the streets, for example:
- Some places may provide a source of practical support e.g. they provide a warm place to stay during the day and food, clothing, laundry facilities and showers. However, such places may be limited in St Helens at different times of the year - but it is worth asking the housing options team for more information.
- The Royal British Legion might be able to help with a rent deposit - visit www.britishlegion.org.uk.
The Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Families Association (SSAFA) provides housing advice to people currently serving in the forces and ex-services personnel and their families. Visit www.ssafa.org.uk.
If you are not in St Helens at the moment, you may use the Homeless England directory to find details of other day centres and hostels across the UK. This is at www.homeless.org.uk.
Homeless after dishonourable discharge
The council may not have a duty to help you if you are homeless after being discharged on disciplinary grounds from the UK armed forces.
If you have not already done so and wish to be considered for social housing, you can register an application at www.u-1-r.co.uk.