You can present as homeless to the Housing Executive either on the outside after your release from prison, or from inside the prison while you are still in custody.
Presenting as homeless after release
You won't always know your release date. You could be released directly from court as either acquitted or time served.
If you are released without having sorted out accommodation, you will need to present as homeless in one of the Housing Executive district offices or at the Homeless Support Unit on Great Victoria Street in Belfast. You will need to complete the Housing and transfer application form, a copy of which you can either pick up in one of the district offices or download from the Housing Executive website . You can get an adviser to help you complete your homelessness application form.
After you submit the form, the Housing Executive will assess your circumstances using legal tests, also known as the four hurdles. You may be able to get temporary accommodation while your homelessness application is being examined.
The Housing Executive must send you a decision letter within 33 days. If the decision is negative, the letter must include reasons why the Housing Executive has decided you are not a Full Duty Applicant and not eligible for assistance as a homeless person.
You can challenge the decision if the Housing Executive has decided you are not homeless, but you should get advice on how to do this properly as it can be a complicated legal process. If you are still unsure of what you need to do to present as homeless call Housing Rights telephone helpline on 028 9024 5640.
Presenting as homeless from prison
You can be legally homeless while still in prison if you're going to be released in the next 28 days and you've got nowhere to go once you get out of prison. The Housing Executive accepts applications from people who are likely to become homeless within the next 28 days. A housing adviser in your prison may be able to write a homeless report to support your application with the Housing Executive. If you are subjec to licence or probation on release the report has to be written by your probation officer.
If you are not sure when you will be released from prison, you ask your resettlement officer to make an appointment for you with the prison housing adviser.