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Homeless help from the council

How to ask the council for help

Ask for help if you're homeless now or could be in the next 8 weeks.

This is called making a homeless application.

Most people can get some help from the council's homeless team.

Contact the council as soon as you think you could be homeless. This gives the council more time to help you.

Emergency housing

Ask for emergency housing if you need it and you're:

An example of priority need is someone who is at much more risk of harm because of a disability or health problem.

Which council to ask

You usually ask your local council for help but you can ask any council.

How to contact your council's homeless team

What is your location?

The council should make it easy to ask for help. You could contact them by:

  • phone call

  • online form

  • email to the homelessness team

  • going to the council offices in person

Phone the council

It can be very hard to get through. Keep trying if no one answers your call or the council does not phone back.

All councils should have an out of hours phone number. Use this if you become homeless at night or over a weekend.

The council usually asks you to come into their offices after you phone them. They should agree to talk on the phone if you cannot get to their offices.

Tell the council you want to make a homeless application when you speak to them.

Apply online

Many councils have an online form on their website that you can use to ask for help.

The council cannot tell you that this is the only way to apply. They should let you come to their offices if you cannot use the internet or a phone.

Email the homeless team

Copy this letter template into an email.

You can ask for emergency housing if you might be in priority need.

[Use the subject: Homeless application]

To the homeless team

I need homeless help under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996.

My name is [your name].

I live with [list the names and ages of anyone who normally lives with you].

I am homeless already or will become homeless on [date].

I need help because [the reason you are or will be homeless].

Please treat this email as my homeless application.

I am asking for help with finding accommodation. I have given you reason to believe that I may be homeless or threatened with homelessness. (Homelessness code of guidance, para 18.5).

Please do not direct me to an online form as I find this difficult. By law, you cannot insist I make my homeless application in a particular way.

[Include this sentence if children live with you or you have another priority need] I also need emergency housing under section 188, Housing Act 1996.

I need to speak to a homeless officer urgently.

Please contact me on [phone number or email].

You can also send it as an email attachment or by post:

Go to the council offices in person

You usually need an appointment to speak to the homeless team.

You should get to speak to a homeless officer without an appointment if you have nowhere to stay tonight. They should check if they need to give you emergency housing.

The council usually asks you to come in for another appointment after you apply. This is so they can help you with a personal housing plan.

Get information you can understand

The council should help you to understand any support they give. For example, they should:

  • get you an interpreter if you need one

  • give you information in a language or format you understand

Tell the council if you cannot pay for a service like translation.

It could be discrimination if you ask for help with these things but they refuse.

What happens next

The council must look into your situation if they think you could be:

  • homeless now

  • homeless in the next 8 weeks

The council must give you emergency housing if they think you might be homeless and have a priority need.

Last updated: 9 January 2024

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