If you were recently released from prison and do not have anywhere to live, you should contact the Housing Options Team for advice and support. We will help you look at immediate short-term housing solutions as well as longer term housing plans. Our focus will always be to prevent you from being homeless and see what support you have in place to enable you to find and sustain your own accommodation.
Depending on how long you have spent in prison, the Resettlement Team should inform the Housing Options Team that you will be homeless upon release. The Resettlement Team, or your Probation Officer, can complete a Duty to Refer, with your consent, by completing the online form here - Duty to Refer | Stafford Borough Council (staffordbc.gov.uk) or emailing email@example.com.
We will then arrange to contact you, either directly or through the prison, to arrange for a housing needs assessment before you are released so we can put steps in place to help you find accommodation for the day of release. We will need as much notice as possible to do this so it is important that you are referred to us as soon as the prison know the date that you are due to be released.
If you apply for housing assistance because you are homeless, we might not necessarily be legally obliged to provide you with accommodation. Our duty to you may be limited to providing you with advice and assistance and not accommodation, depending on your circumstances. The Council will need to consider whether you are eligible for assistance, homeless and in priority need when assessing whether we have a duty to provide you with emergency accommodation if you are homeless that night.
The fact that you have been in prison does not in itself mean that the Council has to treat you as being vulnerable and in priority need for accommodation. We will need to assess the evidence and be satisfied that you will find it difficult to seek out and maintain accommodation for yourself compared to other people who are homeless.
We will take into account if you have spent time in prison when deciding how to treat you, even if it has been some time since you were released. We will take into account:
- the time you have spent in prison
- your mental health
- whether you have a learning disability or physical disability
- whether you have support from probation service, youth offending teams or drug and alcohol misuse teams
- the period of time since your release from prison and whether you have been successful in finding and keeping your own accommodation
- any support you receive from family and friends
- whether you are under 21 and have been in care
- whether you were in the armed forces
- whether you are fleeing violence or threats of violence
- Any other factors that might have an impact on your ability to find accommodation yourself
As part of the investigation, we will also consider whether you are intentionally homeless and this may impact our duty to help you secure somewhere to live. You may be considered intentionally homeless if you should have known that your criminal activity could have resulted in you being sent to prison which lead to the loss of your accommodation or you were evicted from your previous home because of anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour or because of rent arrears due to your time in prison.
Depending on the duty we owe you, we may consider whether you have a local connection to the area. You must have a local connection to the area to be eligible for our Housing Register and to be referred to some providers of support accommodation in Stafford. Time spent in prison, in a specific area, does not give you a local connection to the area in which that prison is located. You may have requirements not to live in particular areas, in which case you may need to seek advice for a different council.
Depending on your circumstances we may help you to find family/friends to stay with or refer you to the nearest available supported accommodation for immediate housing. For longer-term housing, we can help you look in the private rented sector and advise you to register for social housing.
Stafford Borough Council does not own housing stock but we do operate a small housing register for direct nominations to Housing Associations. You can speak to a member of the Housing Options Team about this.
For the majority of housing stock in the Borough, you can apply directly to Homes Plus who own and manage these properties. You can apply directly for social housing with Homes Plus. Their website is Homes to rent - Homes Plus. You will need proof of identification and income to apply for housing. When you are released from prison it is important that you apply for Universal Credit, if you do not have any other source of income.