Homeless when released from prison

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If you were recently released from prison, find out about services that could provide practical support and help you find accommodation. You could also apply to the Council for housing assistance as a homeless person. Make sure you tell the Council of your accommodation and health history.

Help from the Council if you are single and homeless 

If you apply to the Council for housing assistance because you are homeless, the Council might not necessarily be legally obliged to provide you with accommodation. Its duty to you might be limited to it providing you with advice and assistance and not actual accommodation. For the Council to be legally obliged to provide you with accommodation it will have to be satisfied that you are eligible, homeless, in priority need and that you have not made yourself intentionally homeless.

The Council will take into account if you have spent time in prison when deciding how to treat you, even if it has been some time since you were released.

The Council will also look at whether you:

  • Have a mental illness
  • Have a learning disability or physical disability
  • Are under 21 and have been in care
  • Were in the armed forces
  • Are fleeing violence or threats of violence.

The Council could decide not to provide you with permanent accommodation if it considers that you made yourself intentionally homeless.

Priority need for prisoners and ex-offenders 

In some circumstances, the Council might decide you are in priority need because you have spent time in prison or on remand.

The Council will consider whether you should be regarded as being vulnerable by virtue of the fact that you are homeless. This has a particular meaning for homelessness applications and is not the same as being labelled vulnerable in prison.

When considering your homelessness application, the council will look at:

  • The length of time you spent in prison
  • If any third party support is being provided to you either by the probation service, a youth offending team, or drug and alcohol team
  • Evidence provided by any third party (including any housing needs assessment) about your homelessness vulnerability
  • The period of time since your release from prison and how successful you have been in finding your own accommodation and in keeping that accommodation
  • Any third party support networks 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 accommodation yourself

The fact that you have been in prison does not in itself mean that the Council has to treat you as being vulnerable and in priority need for accommodation. The Council will need to assess the evidence before it and be satisfied that you will find it difficult to seek out and maintain accommodation for yourself compared to other people who are rendered homeless.

Contact us to find out more about how the Council decides if you're in priority need.

Prisoners and ex-offenders treated as intentionally homeless

The Council's Housing Options Team 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.

If the Council decides you are intentionally homeless, it will only offer you limited help with finding housing. If you are in priority need, you may be offered temporary accommodation for a short period of time so as to assist you to find your own accommodation in the private sector.

The Council may take the view that you should have known that your criminal activity could have resulted in you being sent to prison, and that this could lead to the loss of your home.

The Council is less likely to decide this if the loss of your home didn't directly follow on from you being sent to prison, for example, if you made an arrangement for another person to pay the rent while you were away but that arrangement broke down.

The Council 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 seek advice from a housing adviser, particularly in cases where it could be argued you were sent to prison for a crime that was not premeditated, or was not deliberate because you were not able to understand the consequences of your own actions.

This could be the case 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 the Council as homeless, the Housing Options Team will check to see if you have a local connection with its area.

You can establish a local connection, for example, by living, working, or having immediate family (usually a parent or brother or sister) in the area.

Time spent in prison in a specific area does not give you a local connection with the area where the prison is located. 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. The council you apply to has to help you.

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 particular area, you may need to seek help from a different council.

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

Emergency accommodation if you have no housing

You may need to access emergency accommodation direct access accommodation is available at Cavendish Lodge Turrett Lane Ipswich

The Chapman Centre in Black Horse Lane Ipswich provides cheap hot meals, showers, laundry facilities and other practical help for people. They may also be able to help you find housing.

Use Shelter's directory or call Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 to find services near you. The Shelter directory can be located at shelter.org.uk.

Help finding housing in the private rented sector

You could try to find housing in the private rented sector. The Council’s Housing Options Team will be able to advise you how to find out what housing is available locally and how to apply for Universal Credit or Housing Benefit to help you with your housing costs.

Apply for a council or housing association home

As a longer term alternative option, you could also consider applying for a council home or a housing association home. 

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Contact Details

Ipswich Borough Council,
Housing Options,
3E Grafton House, 
15-17 Russell Road,

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01473 432000

Office Hours

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01473 433228

Out of Hours