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Housing advice - Care leavers

The council works closely with Hertfordshire Children's Services and Herts Young Homeless Group to meet the housing needs of people leaving care. If you are a care leaver who is homeless or threatened with homelessness you can present to any of the above agencies in the first instance.

Advice for care leavers aged 16 or 17

You will be able to get help from Hertfordshire Children' Services if you have left care and

  • spent a total of at least 13 week in care since the age of 14; and
  • part of the time spent in care was while you were aged 16 or 17

They can also support you with:

  • financial assistance for rent, food and other living expenses; and
  • continuing your education, finding work and dealing with any other difficulties you may face.

Children's Services will work with the council's housing options team to ensure that you are offered appropriate housing and ongoing support.

You can find out more from Herts County Council website 

Advice for care leavers aged 18 - 25

Leaving care at the age of 18

The council's housing options team and Hertfordshire Children's Services work together to prevent care leavers becoming homeless.

You will be supported by Hertfordshire Children's Services to make an application to the housing register before you reach the age of 18. They will also help prepare you for independent living. Once you are 18 you will usually be provided with supported accommodation. This will usually be for a period of 18 weeks or until you are ready to live independently, after which you should be in a position on the housing register to get an allocation of social housing.

Care leavers between the age of 18 and 25 who are homeless or threatened with homelessness

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should contact East Herts Council as soon as possible. We will liaise with Children's Services to try to prevent you from becoming homeless or to help you find alternative accommodation.

You will be invited to an appointment with a housing Options Officer who will assess your housing and support needs and agree a personal housing plan with you. This is a plan of the steps you will be expected to take to remain in your current home if you have one, or find somewhere to live. It will also set out how the Council will support you and what other agencies you should engage with to help you find and sustain a home.

There are a number of ways that we may help, such as referring you to hostel accommodation or lending you the deposit for a home in the private rented sector. You will be advised on making an application to the Housing Register if you have not already done so. We will continue to assist you for up to 56 days.

If we are unable to prevent you from becoming homeless or you are already homeless, we will assess whether you have a priority need for accommodation. If you are aged 18, 19 or 20 and spent at least one night in care when you were 16 or 17 years old, you will have a priority need for accommodation.

If you are a care leaver aged 21 or over and in full-time education Hertfordshire Children's Services will help you with accommodation if you have nowhere to stay outside term time.

If you are over the age of 21 and not in full time education we will look at whether you are vulnerable under the terms of the Housing Act 1996. In doing so, we will take account of all relevant factors that might contribute to you being significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person would be if made homeless. We will take into consideration:

  • the impact that being in care has had on you;
  • any mental or physical health problems,
  • drug and/or alcohol issues;
  • the impact of any time you have spent serving in the armed forces or in custody;
  • other factors that might limit your ability to find and sustain accommodation;
  • any support you are getting from either formal or informal sources.

If we decide you are vulnerable you will have a priority need for accommodation. 

Additionally, we will investigate whether you have a local connection. To have a connection to East Herts you must:

  • have lived in the district for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years; or
  • work in the district; or
  • have a close family member that lives in the district and has done do for at least five years; or
  • have another special reason for needing to live in East Herts

You will automatically have a local connection if are under 21 years old and were previously in care in Hertfordshire for at least 2 years (even if placed there by another council).

You also have a local connection if you're under 25 and you get advice and support from the Hertfordshire Social Services under a 'pathway plan'.

If you become homeless

If you are in priority need, but do not have a local connection we will refer you to a local authority to which you do have a connection.

If you are not in priority need, the Council will not have a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation. In these circumstances, we will continue to work with you for up to 56 days to help you to find somewhere to live.

If we decide that you are in priority need and have a local connection, you will be provided with temporary accommodation for up to 56 days. During this time we will continue to work with you to find a more permanent home. We will also look at the circumstances that caused you to become homeless and make a decision on whether you are intentionally homeless.

You may be intentionally homeless if:

  • you have failed to pay your rent when you could afford to do so; or
  • you broke the terms of you tenancy agreement and this resulted in you losing your accommodation; or
  • you gave up suitable accommodation; or
  • you did or failed to do something else that resulted in you losing your accommodation

If you are in priority need and not intentionally homeless, the council will continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until we are able to offer you more permanent accommodation either in the private rented sector or in social housing.

Help from Social Services

If you are a care leaver you should continue to receive help and advice from Hertfordshire Social Services until you reach the age of 25. You should have a personal advisor who keeps in contact with you and helps you access the education and training and other services and benefits that you are entitled to. They should also help you with life skills such as budgeting.

For further Independent advice on housing and homelessness click here

You may also find the following information useful

 

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