When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Homeless on release

Whether you came to prison from a permanent address or temporary accommodation, you could be at risk of being homeless upon release. If you are unable to find yourself a suitable accommodation before your sentence comes to an end, you may be able to present as homeless to the Housing Executive.

Depending on your circumstances, the Housing Executive may have a duty to provide you with accommodation. This can be a lengthy process but the Housing Executive can start looking into your circumstances from 3 months before your release date.  However, you won't actually meet the standards for homelessness until 28 days before you are released.  Talk to the Housing Advice Development Worker at your prison once you know your release date and find out when you should start the process. 

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. The Housing Executive must help you if it thinks you are homeless, or about to become homeless in the next 28 days.

You can ask the Housing Executive for help in the three months up to your release date. The housing adviser in your prison can help you with this. 

The Housing Executive will have a duty to offer you accommodation if it is satisfied that you are a Full Duty Applicant. You will be a Full Duty Applicant if you pass all 4 homeless tests also known as “hurdles”.

If you pass all four homelessness tests, you will be given Full Duty Applicant status and will be entitled to offers of permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive and housing associations. If you fail the tests, you can ask to be assessed under the Selection Scheme. You can also challenge the Housing Executive's decision if you fail any of the tests.

If you have nowhere to live after your release from prison, you may need to look into emergency accommodation options, such as hostels and nightshelters.