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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Adviser: Young people and homelessness

Our Community Housing Advice Partnership recently received a call from a support worker at MACS. MACS is an organisation that helps young people who haven't had a fair deal.  This particular call from MACS was about Paul, a vulnerable 20 year old who currently had nowhere permanent to live. 

Paul had been living with his mum, but left the property after she assaulted him. With nowhere else to go, Paul went down to the Housing Executive to present as homeless. Although Paul was able to spend a few nights a week with various friends there were a handful of nights when he had no place to go and ended up walking the streets until morning.  

MACS was helping Paul get his life back on track.  MACS contacted us because Paul had received a decision from the Housing Executive stating that Paul was not in priority need. MACS needed our help to find Paul a home.

Does the client have priority need?

As advisers will know, the Housing Executive will only have a full duty to provide permanent accommodation to people who pass all four tests for homelessness, including priority need.  People who meet specific criteria should be regarded as being in priority need, and one of these criteria is that the person has been subject to violence and is at risk of further violence if they return home.  Paul was able to tell us about his life and the incident that led to him leaving home. It became clear that he was the victim of violence at home, and was fearful of further violence had he remained.

Priority need can also be granted to someone who has certain issues if these issues mean the person would be vulnerable and would have more difficulties managing as a homeless person. Paul had mental health difficulties and past issues with addiction.  He told us that the nights he had spent walking the streets had seriously impacted on his ability to cope with these previous issues and that he was worried that he'd sink into depression again and start misusing substances.  Paul seemed much more vulnerable than many other people his age and there was a real risk that continued homelessness would see a serious deterioration in his mental health. We believed the threat of violence and Paul’s vulnerability should have led the NIHE to award him full duty status as he had priority need.

Presenting evidence to the Housing Executive

Paul was asked to obtain confirmation from his GP regarding his current vulnerabilities and to outline any impact the situation is having on his mental health. Our adviser contacted the Housing Executive and asked to speak with the decision maker in Paul’s case, to ensure they were fully aware of the risk to Paul in the family home. In light of the new evidence, the Housing Executive agreed to reconsider the original decision that Paul was not in priority need.

The Housing Executive came back to inform us that Paul had been found to be in priority need, and was awarded full duty applicant status. Paul has now moved into a one bedroom flat and MACS has told us that he's doing really well in his new home. 

Tagged In

Social Tenancies, Homelessness, Adviser