Help if you’re homeless: ex-prisoners

If you've left or are about to leave prison, get help finding somewhere to live.

Find an urgent place to stay

If you don't have anywhere to go when you're released from prison:

Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

Find out more about getting:

Help from the council

When you apply to the council as homeless, the help you can get depends on your circumstances.

One of the conditions for qualifying for temporary housing is being classed as 'vulnerable'. This means your situation makes it harder for you to cope with being homeless.

You may be classed as vulnerable as an ex-prisoner if you:

  • have been in prison for a long time
  • have been sleeping rough
  • find it difficult to find or keep housing
  • get support from the probation service, a youth offending team or a drug and alcohol team

Find out more about who qualifies for council help with housing.

Longer-term housing

To qualify for longer-term council housing, you usually need to have links to the area. This includes living or working there.

Being in prison in the area doesn't count as a link unless you:

  • don't have links to another area
  • can't live in the area where you have links (for example, an injunction means you can't go there)

The council may refuse to give you further help if you lost your home because of something you did or didn't do. This is known as being 'intentionally homeless'. This may apply if you lost your home because, for example, you:

  • were convicted of a serious offence in the area
  • didn't pay rent when you were in prison
  • supplied drugs

Get legal advice if the council says you're intentionally homeless and you were affected by the following when you committed the crime:

  • a mental illness
  • you were less able to make decisions for yourself (limited mental capacity)

Find advice in your area using Shelter's service directory.

Find out more about applying to the council as homeless.

Help if you're released on licence

Your probation officer can help you find accommodation if both the following apply:

  • you spent at least 12 months in prison
  • you're released on licence

You must meet conditions of the licence. This might mean you can't live in certain areas.

Help when on bail or home detention curfew

You can get housing and support from the Bail Accommodation Support Scheme if you're released on:

Furnished accommodation is available for single people and families.

You have to pay rent but you might be able to get help with the cost.

Help with housing costs

You might be able to get housing benefit to help pay your rent. Find out how to apply for housing benefit on GOV.UK.

Your council or a charity may also be able to give you help with your:

You may also get help with food, heating and clothing from a local welfare scheme. Find a scheme near you at Child Poverty Action Group.

If you have problems finding private housing, you could:

  • use an independent landlord rather than an agency
  • offer a bigger deposit or rent in advance
  • ask someone to agree to pay any debt (a guarantor)

Help before you leave prison

Before you leave prison you can get help with benefits, money and finding somewhere to live. You can get this from your resettlement officer.

You can also call the free Shelter Helpline on 0808 800 4444.

Before you're released, you can apply for:

  • a discharge grant of £46
  • a grant of about £50 to pay for your first night's accommodation (this is paid to the housing provider)

Still need help?

Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

8am – 8pm on weekdays and 8am – 5pm on weekends, 365 days a year


Last updated - 01 Jan 2016

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