What is homelessness?
Homelessness is such a broad and complex subject that it can become confusing for some people, especially those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. In short, homelessness is much more than sleeping on the street. The definition given by the UK government is "a household has no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world available and reasonable to occupy".
This means that if you do not have accommodation that you have a legal right to occupy and that would be deemed as reasonable for occupation, then you may fall into the category of being homeless. This includes; sleeping rough, sofa surfing, temporarily staying with friends or family, sleeping in a vehicle and many other possibilities.
If you believe that you're threatened with homelessness then you do not need to wait until you are homeless before making contact with us and seeking assistance. The earlier you get in touch with us, the better chance we will have to assist or advise with resolving your situation and preventing you from becoming homeless.
What to do if you are homeless or think you are going to be
If you are homeless or think you are going to be, we can provide much needed support at what is a frightening and traumatic time. In the current uncertainty, due to the cost of living crisis, many people are worried about losing their homes.
We can advise you of your housing rights and provide advice on any welfare support you can get, including housing benefits. We can also negotiate with your landlord or friends and family to help you stay in your accommodation. We can help you with your housing options so you can secure accommodation that meets your needs.
Free legal advice if you're being evicted
A new government-funded legal advice and representation (legal aid) service is available to anyone facing possession proceedings.
Help is available from the moment you receive written notice that someone is seeking the possession of your home. This might be an email from your landlord or a letter from a creditor. Your financial situation will not affect your right to access this support and you will not need to pay. Find out more on GOV.UK - Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service
You can call our triage service between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday on:
- 01432 261546 or 01432 261547
If you are unable to contact us by phone you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are under 18 and homeless, please call our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team on 01432 260800 and ask to speak to the duty social worker. Please tell us if you are a care leaver.
What to do if you're concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough
If you have concerns that someone may be sleeping rough and in need of professional support - the most efficient way to make our dedicated team aware of them is via StreetLink. This will send a notification directly to our Rough Sleeper Outreach Team who will be able to take appropriate action.
Please be aware that, in most cases, we will not be able to share details of how we respond to notifications due to data protection and confidentiality. Please also be aware that our outreach team is not a 24 hour service, so if you have concerns for someone's immediate safety and/or wellbeing - please consider whether there is a need to contact the emergency services.
Homeless emergency out-of-hours
If you are homeless in an emergency and your call is outside of these hours above, call us on 01432 261600.
The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) kicks in if the weather is severe enough to cause concern for health or wellbeing to people who would otherwise be sleeping rough.
This includes when the temperature is 0 degrees or below. In these instances Herefordshire Council will look to offer you accommodation overnight, if you would otherwise be sleeping rough. The accommodation is likely to be a B&B and where possible we will book it close to where you have your support network. However, at busy periods we may have very limited options for availability and therefore may not be able to offer accommodation in your preferred location. This provision will be reviewed daily and your rough sleeper worker will work with you to secure future housing. We are likely to explore all other options with you before providing accommodation under SWEP.
We may also implement SWEP at other times of severe weather, including extreme heat. SWEP doesn't always mean that accommodation is made available to those who wouldn't otherwise have access to accommodation – but that we will provide a service to protect people from the weather conditions. For example, this could be providing sun-cream and bottled water during periods of extreme heat.
How we can help
If you believe that you are homeless or threatened with homelessness please contact us for advice and any assistance we may be able to provide. You can contact us by phone or email, details of which are above. You may only need advice, but where you need more than that a caseworker will be allocated to you. If you need to provide evidence of your situation your caseworker will discuss with you how this can be provided.
If you have a housing need you can register with Home Point which will enable you to bid for available social housing properties. As an alternative, we may be able to help you secure private rented accommodation that is suitable and affordable. Where possible we will help you find accommodation in an area of your choice, or as close as possible. We may need to find you temporary accommodation - somewhere you can stay in the short-term while you look for somewhere more permanent to live, or while we decide how best we can help you. Temporary accommodation could be anywhere in the county and could even be elsewhere if nothing is available locally.
We always try to help everyone in the best way possible, but if you are unhappy with any decision we have made about your application or the housing you have been offered, you can have our decision reviewed. You must ask for this to happen within 21 days of being told our decision. You can ask Citizens Advice to help you do this.