Types of homelessness
Local Authorities are responsible for assessing people who are homeless, but they are also responsible for deciding who and who doesn’t qualify for statutory (legal) support. To do this they apply five key tests to homelessness applications, all of which must be satisfied before full support is offered. They are:
- Eligibility: Are you a British citizen or have entitlement to public funds?
- Status: Are you homeless or likely to lose your home in 28 days?
- Locality: Do you have a local connection to the area? Have you lived there for at least 6 out of the last 12 months? Are you employed in the area? Do you have close relatives in the area?
- Intentionality: Have you done anything or failed to do something that has caused you to lose your home, such as not paying your rent or mortgage even though you had the money to do so? Were you evicted due to nuisance behaviour?
- Vulnerability: Are you a priority or not? Do you have dependent children? Are you or someone you live with pregnant? Are you or someone you live with disabled, elderly, or suffering from illness? Are you under 18? Have you lived in a care or foster home?
If someone fails to satisfy one of these tests they are deemed to be non-statutory homeless and not entitled to the same assistance as someone who is entitled to assistance.
People who are non-statutory homeless (often referred to as single homeless) must often rely for support on third sector and voluntary organisations like Framework, which work with local authorities to ensure nobody is left behind. Sometimes we are able to successfully challenge the decisions of local authorities and get people housed under a “duty of care”.
People who have added complications and who are not so easy to house may need more support to find housing and start to meet some of their own personal issues. This is where we either advice or support or house that person until they are able to live independently.
Another term that is used to describe homelessness is ‘hidden homelessness’ this describes people who are homeless but do not show up on official figures because they have not asked for help or don’t know where to find it.
The term Sofa Surfing is used to describe people who stay on a night-by-night basis with friends and family - with no security of tenure. They may already be seeking help or they may be "Hidden Homeless." Either way they are in a very vulnerable position.