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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Homelessness

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Stockton Council may be able to assist you if you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  The Homelessness and Housing Solutions Service aim to prevent people becoming homeless by providing advice and assistance to help them find a solution to their housing problem.


What does the Homelessness and Housing Solutions Service do?

  • Try to assist you to keep your existing accommodation
  • Help you explore your housing options
  • Give advice on the council's statutory duties
  • Provide temporary accommodation.


What services can Homelessness and Housing Solutions offer?
The Homelessness and Housing Solutions Service offer a wide range of services to help people who are homeless or likely to become homeless. Where possible, we aim to make sure nobody actually becomes homeless. We do this by providing advice at an early stage about what legal rights you may have to property, solutions to resolve a threat of homelessness and any housing options available to you.


Who can the Homelessness and Housing Solutions Service help?
We are able to provide advice to anybody who approaches the service. In some cases, we will give you information about other specialist agencies that may be better able to help you.


Preventing homelessness
Our aim is to prevent homelessness whenever possible and we will help you to keep your current accommodation, if appropriate, whenever we can.  Some of the ways we can help are listed below but not limited to:

  • If you rent your current accommodation, we can advise you on negotiating with your landlord to delay or to stop you becoming homeless
  • Referral for benefit advice to maximise your income
  • We can refer you to other agencies for advice and support
  • Help and advice with paying your mortgage
  • Offering advice and assistance if you are affected by domestic violence
  • Referral to tenancy support services
  • Referral to supported housing schemes
  • Help to find accommodation in the private sector - Please do not make any financial commitments without prior agreement with an officer from Stockton’s housing team. If the service does not agree that the property is acceptable for you to move into, any potential offer of financial assistance will not be honoured. Therefore do not pay any fees until you have agreement from your officer.


Are you homeless or at risk of losing your home? 
Being homeless doesn't just mean you have nowhere to live, you can be homeless if:

  • You have accommodation but you cannot return to it because you, or a member of your family would be at risk of violence
  • You have accommodation but have been restricted entry by your landlord or other persons
  • You have accommodation but it is unreasonable for you to continue to live there
  • Your accommodation is a movable structure, for example a houseboat or a caravan and you have nowhere to put it legally.


What we will do when you contact us?
Losing your accommodation can be a difficult time but most people do find somewhere else to live. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to find a new home.

We will ask you questions about your present situation, if we think there is a real risk of you losing your accommodation or you are presenting as homeless an officer will find out more about your circumstances. Our main aim is to help you to stay in your current accommodation, but if this is not possible (for example if you are suffering or at risk from domestic violence) we will give you advice and help to find you somewhere else to live. We may put you in touch with other agencies for them to help you.


What if I am homeless tonight?
Some applicants will qualify for emergency accommodation. We will only arrange this if we have reason to believe that you may:

  • Be homeless
  • Be eligible for assistance.

If you are worried about becoming homeless you should contact us as soon as possible.

 

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)

During the cold weather, in accordance with the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), if you see anyone who appears to be sleeping rough or on the streets you can direct them to the Council’s Homelessness and Housing Solutions Team (or the Emergency Duty Team out of hours) who will make contact with the individual(s) and arrange accommodation.

For more information about SWEP please visit Homeless.org website.

 

Contact us

You can visit us at:
Stockton Central Library and Customer Service Centre
Church Road
Stockton-on-Tees
TS18 1TX

Email: Housing.options@stockton.gov.uk

Telephone: 01642 528389

Or write to us: 
Homelessness and Housing Solutions
16 Church Road
Stockton-on-Tees
TS18 1TX

Opening Times:

If you are not homeless tonight:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 9am to 4pm
Friday: 9am to 3.30pm

If you are homeless and have nowhere to stay tonight:
Monday to Friday: 10am to 3.30pm

If you are homeless in an emergency outside these times you can telephone the Emergency Duty Team 01642 524552.

 

Specified Public Bodies; Duty to Refer

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduces a new Duty to Refer (DtR) requiring specified public authorities in England to notify Local Housing Authorities (LHA's) of service users they think may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days. This duty comes into effect from 1 October 2018.

Which public authorities have the Duty to Refer?
The following services will be required to refer service users they consider may be homeless or at risk:

  • Prisons (public and private)
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (including CRC)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals in their capacity of providing in-patient treatment
  • Social service authorities
  • The Regular Forces (under duties to The Secretary of State for Defence under the legislation).


What are the specified public authorities required to do under the duty?
If a public authority considers a service user may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless, the public authority will be required to ask the customer if they would like to be referred to a LHA of their choice. The service user may choose the local authority to be referred to but should be advised about the implications of being referred to an area where they have no local connection; which include that they may be referred on to another local authority if homeless. Only if the individual consents to a referral will the public authority have a duty to make a referral.

North East Local Authorities have come together to support a regional approach to administer the Duty to Refer.

A number of Local Authorities in the North East have come together to establish a consistent approach to implement the DtR to refer across the region.  This includes one referral form for public authorities to use when referring clients who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The regional form is available online here and electronic submissions can be made via each individual local authorities specific email address. You can access the form here to refer to other regional Local Authorities should your client wish.

Referring organisations should be mindful that for certain individuals, it may be more appropriate for the client to approach the housing authority directly rather than submit a referral.

The DtR only applies to the specified public authorities in England and individuals can only be referred to a local housing authority in England. However, any other public authority not identified can also make a referral on a voluntary basis. To make an application to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council complete a referral form here  and forward via email to our dedicated email address.

A referral does not replace a homelessness application. The referred person(s) will still need to complete a homelessness application form if they wish to seek our help. However, following a referral, we will contact the person(s) to begin enquiries.


What do public authorities need to know about the DtR? 
The DtR involves more than just undertaking the referral: public authorities will need to understand what the risk factors are for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Gaining this understanding may require some further reading and training and the following resources and events may be helpful for you and your staff:

Code of Guidance - Homelessness Reduction Act - Provides guidance on how local authorities should exercise their functions relating to homelessness and threatened homelessness and apply the statutory duties in practice.  See Chapter 4 which focusses on the DtR.

NHAS Training Offer for Public Authorities DtR – National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) is funded to provide housing and homelessness advice for housing and non-housing professionals. NHAS has developed a webinar for public authorities to understand their obligations under the DtR and also offer a range of relevant materials. They can also deliver face-to-face training to public authorities on request

Strategic Housing

Our Housing Strategy is a framework for how we will address the challenges that face us over the next 5 years, and is designed to be used to inform officers and members about the strategy for Housing Services, and to give our partners a clear sense of our approach, our priorities and our ways of working. It also commits to supporting our most vulnerable residents to access and maintain good quality housing which meets their needs.

Following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council has produced its first Homelessness Reduction and Prevention Strategy. Our Strategy details the Council’s ongoing commitment to reducing, preventing and tackling homelessness, as well as how we will work with partners to implement the new duties arising from the legislation.