Frequently asked questions about homelessness

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions which may help answer your question on housing or homelessness:

What can the Council do for me?

What will I have to do?

Am I eligible for Homeless Assistance?

How does Wirral Council decide if a person is homeless?

What is meant by the term 'priority need'?

What does it mean to be intentionally homeless?

What is a local connection?

How long will it take the Council to investigate my homeless application?

What happens if I disagree with Council’s Homeless decision or offer?

 

What can the Council do for me?

Wirral Council can offer you free advice and help. We will do everything possible to prevent you from losing your home and becoming homeless and we will look for a solution which suits you. Temporary accommodation may be offered in special circumstances.

The Council has a legal duty to make sure that accommodation is available to a person or persons who it considers:

  • are eligible for assistance
  • are homeless or under threat of becoming homeless within 28 days
  • are in priority need
  • did not intentionally make themselves homeless
  • have a local connection with the area.

What will I have to do?

You will need to meet with a Homelessness Assessment Officer at the Conway Centre in Birkenhead. You can contact them by visiting any Wirral One Stop Shop. When you are interviewed you will need to bring some or all of the following documents:

  • Proof of income
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of family makeup (if relevant)
  • Proof of Pregnancy (if relevant)
  • Proof of benefits

Am I eligible for Homeless Assistance?

You must be a British Citizen or a person from abroad who is eligible to receive public funds.

How does Wirral Council decide if a person is homeless?

The council’s statutory homeless responsibilities are set out in Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002 and case law.

Homelessness law covers more than just being out on the streets. You are homeless or under the threat of homelessness if:

  • You have nowhere to live in the United Kingdom or elsewhere
  • You are afraid to go home because someone living there has been or may be violent to you or your family
  • You have nowhere you can live together with all your family
  • You have somewhere to stay but it is not reasonable for you to do so
  • Your home is a boat or mobile caravan but you have nowhere to put it
  • You have been issued a notice to quit, possession order or eviction warrant
  • You have been living with friends or relatives and been asked to leave.

What is meant by the term 'priority need'?

The following applicants will be classed as being in priority need:

  • Households with dependant children who live with you or might be reasonably expected to live with you
  • Households where a family member is pregnant
  • You are aged 16-17 or a care leaver aged 18- 20
  • You are vulnerable due to old age or you have a serious  physical or mental illness or disability which makes you vulnerable
  • You are vulnerable because of your experience in the armed forces, in custody, in care or as a looked after child or other special reason
  • You are homeless due to an emergency such as a fire, flood or other disaster
  • You have had to leave your home because of violence or threats of violence from either someone else living in your home or others

Please note: If you are not in priority need Wirral Council will give you advice and assistance on the range of housing options available to you.

What does it mean to be intentionally homeless?

This means that Wirral Council thinks you have:

  • Chosen to leave a home that you could have stayed in or
  • It was your fault that you lost your home
  • You unreasonably failed to take up accommodation that was available to you.

This would apply if:

  • You chose to sell your home when there was no risk of losing it
  • You lost your home because of willful and persistent refusal to pay rent or mortgage payments
  • You have neglected your affairs having disregarded advice from a qualified person
  • You voluntarily gave up adequate accommodation in this country or abroad without first having found other accommodation to move into when it would have been reasonable for you to stay there
  • You have been evicted for anti-social behaviour.

What is a local connection?

In general, the council will accept you as having a local connection if:

  • You live or have lived in Wirral for 6 out of the last 12 months, or 3 out of the last 5 years
  • You are employed in the area
  • You have close family associations in the area

but other special circumstances will be considered.

How long will it take the Council to investigate my homeless application?

The investigation will be carried out as quickly as possible and is normally completed within 33 days. We will send you a letter giving details of the decision made and the reasons.

If it is confirmed that we have a duty to house you, a Homelessness Assessment Officer will be responsible for finding suitable accommodation for you. At present you will receive one offer of suitable accommodation (this is subject to change in 2010). This could be in any area unless you are able to prove you cannot live in a certain area.

The duty to re-house you will cease if you:

  • Accept an offer of a tenancy
  • Refuse an offer of suitable accommodation
  • Leave or lose temporary accommodation without informing us.

What happens if I disagree with Council’s Homeless decision or offer?

You should talk through any concerns or problems with your Homelessness Assessment Officer but if you are still unhappy you have a right to request a review of any decision made by a Homelessness Assessment Officer. The details of the review procedure will be on your decision letter.

You must appeal in writing within 21 days of your decision letter to:

The Deputy Manager
Housing Options
Conway Centre
Conway Street
Birkenhead
Wirral CH41 4AH

Further information

Further information on homelessness is available on the Communities & Local Government website