I know my release date
You can present as homeless at any stage in the three months running up to your release date, although it's best not to leave it too late. Make an appointment with the Housing Advice Development Worker in your prison to start this process.
How do I present as homeless?
The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.
If you are presenting as homeless from prison, you will need to ask the Offender Management Unit to make a referral to begin your homeless application approximately 3 months prior to your release.
The Housing Executive will have to complete your homeless assessment no later than 28 days prior to your release. To assess you the Housing Executive will need a completed Housing and Transfer Application Form and a homeless report from the Offender Management Unit or the Housing Advice Development Worker in the prison. The Housing Executive won't accept your application without this report.
After your application form has been submitted, the Housing Executive will assess your circumstances using legal tests, also known as the “4 hurdles”. If you pass all four hurdles, you will be entitled to help from the Housing Executive and it will have a duty to provide you with suitable housing.
Usually, the Housing Executive must make a decision on a homelessness application within 33 days of receiving all the relevant information. However, prisoners will not pass the homelessness test until 28 days before their release date so there may be a silght delay if you start the process before this trigger. If the Housing Executive decides you are not entitled to assistance as a homeless person the letter must include detailed reasons.
If the Housing Executive decides that you are not homeless, you have a legal right to have this decision reviewed and, if the review upholds the original decision, you may be able to appeal to the County Court on a point of law.
Where can I get help with applying?
There is a detailed section available on homelessness issues on our main website, with extensive information about presenting as homeless, homelessness tests, assessment procedure and appeals.
If you still unsure of what you need to do to present as homeless talk to your Sentence Manager, Probation Officer, peer advisers, Housing Advice Development Worker or a NIACRO adviser working in your prison.
An adviser or probation officer can help you complete the application and will write a report about your circumstances which the Housing Executive will use to make a decision about your homelessness status.
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