Homeless upon release from prison

Handcuffs

If you are due to be released from prison and have nowhere to live, find out about services that could provide support and help you find accommodation. You could also apply for housing help as a homeless person.

Further information

Help from the Resettlement Team prior to release

Whilst you are in prison your Resettlement Officer will help you to find accommodation upon release.  If they can’t do this, they will get in touch with the Council to make us aware of your release date.

Help from Leicester City Council if you are single and homeless

If you apply to us for help because you are homeless, we might not always have a legal duty to give you accommodation. In most cases, we will have a legal duty to create a personalised housing plan with you, and help as much as we can to help you to find a suitable home. In some cases, we may have a duty to give you temporary accommodation for a short time, for example in a hostel.

For us to be legally obliged to provide you with permanent accommodation it will have to be satisfied that you are eligible, homeless, in priority need and that you have not made yourself intentionally homeless. We will take into account if you have spent time in prison when assessing your vulnerability, even if it has been some time since you were released. We will also look at whether you:

  • have a mental illness
  • have a learning disability or physical disability
  • have been in care
  • have been in the armed forces
  • are fleeing violence or threats of violence.

Priority need for prisoners and ex-offenders

In some circumstances, we may decide you are ‘in priority need’ because you are vulnerable after spending time in prison or on remand.  This has a particular meaning for homeless applications and is not the same as being classed as vulnerable in prison. When considering your homelessness application, we will look at:

  • the length of time you spent in prison
  • if any support is being provided to you either by probation services, youth offending team, or drug and alcohol team
  • evidence provided by any third party (including any housing needs assessment) about your homelessness vulnerability
  • the amount of time since your release from prison and how successful you have been in finding a home, and keeping homes you find
  • any support networks you have such as family, friends or a probation officer
  • evidence of any other vulnerability such as mental health problems, drug or alcohol misuse, or a history of having been in care
  • any other factors that might have an impact on your ability to find a home yourself.

The fact that you have been in prison does not automatically mean that we should treat you as being vulnerable and in priority need for accommodation. We will need to look at the evidence carefully be satisfied that you will find it difficult to find and maintain a home for yourself compared to other people who are made homeless.

Prisoners and ex-offenders treated as intentionally homeless

Our Housing Options Service may decide that you are intentionally homeless if you were evicted from your previous home because of criminal or antisocial behaviour or because of rent arrears resulting from your time in prison. However, we will still try to help you find a home by creating a personal housing plan with you.

Problems may arise in the event the plan fails.  At the end of the ‘relief’ period of the application we then have to make a final homeless decision.  At that point, if we decide you are intentionally homeless, we will only offer you limited help with finding housing.  If you are in priority need, you may be offered temporary accommodation for a short time to give you some time to find a home.

We may decide that you should have known that your criminal activity could end with you being sent to prison, and that this could lead to the loss of your home. We could also decide that you are intentionally homeless if you gave up your tenancy because your entitlement to housing benefit ended during a period in prison.

It is very important to get advice from a housing adviser, particularly in cases where it could be argued it was not deliberate because you were not able to understand the consequences of your own actions.  This could be because of: 

  • having limited mental capacity
  • mental illness
  • frailty
  • an assessed substance abuse problem.

What area can you be housed in if you are homeless?

When you apply to us as homeless, our Housing Options Service will check to see if you have a local connection with its area. You can have a local connection, for example, by living, working, or having family (usually a parent or brother or sister) in the area.  Time spent in prison in does not give you a local connection with the area where the prison is located so it would be about where you lived before that.

If you do not have a connection to Leicester, you will normally be referred to the place you do have a connection with.  However, if you have no local connection with any area or if you are fleeing domestic violence, you can apply to any council in any area.

There may be restrictions placed on where you can live.  For example, if an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) says you can't go to a certain area, you may need to seek help from a different council. Find out more from Gov.uk web site about ASBOs.

High risk prisoners managed by a multi-agency public protection arrangement (MAPPA) may be required to live in certain areas.

Help finding housing in the private rented sector

The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme is aimed at helping single customers and childless couples in finding a bedsit or 1-bed flat.  This is done by offering a guarantee for the deposit to landlords so you don’t have to find the money for this. It is only available to customers facing homelessness who have a local connection to Leicester.

As the customer, you would need find a suitable place that you can afford.  This means the rent must be the same or less than the amount of Housing Benefit / Local Housing Allowance you can get.  If you do not how much you can get you can contact the Housing Benefit Service to find out. 

Once you have found a place you can contact the Housing Options Service and we will talk to the landlord on your behalf and try to convince them to accept the scheme and rent the property to you.

Apply for a council or housing association home

As a longer-term alternative option, you could also think about applying for a council home or a housing association home. Please complete an online housing application.

Help finding housing from probation services

It may be a condition of your release from prison that you live in Approved Premises.  If it is a condition of your release to live in Approved Premises, your probation officer or case manager will make the referral. Only a minority of released prisoners are required to live in Approved Premises upon release.  If you are not required to do so, it is your responsibility to get advice about where you will live upon release.

Your probation officer or case manager might be able to give you some advice about your housing options and can make referrals on your behalf to appropriate housing providers, but they do not have a legal duty to house you. 

Help with money when you are released from prison

You may be able to get help from our community support grant scheme to help with your costs until your benefits are sorted out.

You could apply for help with paying for:

  • food
  • essential belongings lost when you were away
  • clothes
  • a fridge for your new home
  • help with the costs of moving into accommodation

There are two types of grants available:

  • Crisis grant: Where a person is in crisis and the financial support required is immediate and urgent.
  • Support grant: Where the person is in need of support due to financial hardship but the need is not immediate.

Awards will be made by way of a voucher, card or goods system. Cash will only be paid as a last resort and where there is no other alternative. Each case will be treated on its own merits, and all customers will receive equal and fair treatment. You can apply for a grant by calling 0116 454 1019, between 8.30am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.

You may be able to prepare for your release when you are in prison by saving some of your prison wages.  You could consider opening a credit union account when you are in prison.  Ask at the prison for details.