Help if you’re homeless: refugees and asylum seekers

Get help finding somewhere to live if you’re a refugee or an asylum seeker.

Find an urgent place to stay

If you don’t have anywhere to stay you can call an asylum helpline. Find out more on GOV.UK.

Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

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

Shelter can also find an interpreter to help you with the call.

Find out more about getting a place to stay if you’re on the streets.

Refugees: apply for help from the council

You can apply to your council for help with housing if you’re are homeless and you:

  • are a refugee
  • have humanitarian protection

You qualify for the same help as UK nationals, including benefits.

Find out more about how to apply to the council as homeless.

Refugees: who qualifies for help from the council

If you’re a refugee, the help you can get from the council depends on your circumstances.

It’s important to tell the council about anything that makes it harder for you to cope with being homeless.

You need a link to the area

To qualify for housing in a certain area, you need to show you have a link to that area.

If you've lived in asylum support housing, the area where you last lived is counted as the area where you have a link. If you apply as homeless in another area, you're usually referred back to the area where you last lived.

If you don’t qualify for help from the council

You don't qualify for council help with housing if:

  • you’re an asylum seeker
  • your asylum claim has been refused

If this applies to you, you may be able to get:

Refugees: get help with housing costs

If you’re a refugee, you may get housing benefit to help pay your rent. Before you can claim housing benefit, you must apply for a National Insurance number. Find out more about how to apply for housing benefit on GOV.UK.

Your council may give you help to:

  • pay your deposit
  • get extra help to pay your rent with a discretionary housing payment

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

You don't qualify for any of this help if you’re an asylum seeker.

Asylum seekers: apply for asylum support

If you’re a homeless asylum seeker, you can get help with housing and living expenses by applying for asylum support.

You can’t apply for council housing or any benefits.

When you apply for asylum support you can’t choose where you live. You’re unlikely to get accommodation in London or the south east of England.

Asylum support also gives you money or a payment card if you don’t have enough to buy food. You can still apply for this if you stay with friends or family.

if you’ve been refused asylum but can’t yet leave the UK, you may get financial help and short-term housing. To qualify for this help you must be unable to support yourself and meet other conditions.

Find out more on GOV.UK about how to:

Asylum seekers: get permission to stay in the UK

If you need help getting permission to stay in the UK, you should get advice from an immigration adviser.

Find out more on GOV.UK about how to:

Still need help?

You can get help and advice from:


Last updated - 01 Jan 2016

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