Homelessness: how we can help you

Housing

COVID-19 update

During this period of crisis, we have been working to ensure that rough sleepers are taken off the streets and out of the Waltham Forest night shelter and secured safe, self-contained accommodation for them, including some hotel rooms.

For homelessness issues please contact

Our dedicated outreach team continue to work hard during the COVID-19 outbreak to reach rough sleepers in Waltham Forest and make the offer of help.

If residents are concerned about a person they think may be sleeping rough in their neighbourhood, please use the Tell Streetlink smartphone app to connect them with support services. 

We run a public facing awareness campaign from November to February.  The number of people sleeping on our streets is increasing. During the winter months rough sleepers will face additional health risks.

The average life expectancy of someone sleeping rough is currently only 47 years.

What support is there for rough sleepers in Waltham Forest?

We work all year round to get rough sleepers off the streets and into secure accommodation. 

We have a commissioned an outreach team who work 365 days of the year to seek out rough sleepers and offer them support and emergency accommodation. 

Are you sleeping rough or worried about someone that is?

In Waltham Forest, there are a number of agencies and accommodation providers offering advice, support and shelter to get rough sleepers off the streets. 

These include:

  • a dedicated outreach team who will receive referrals via StreetLink​
  • a 15 bed short term assessment project for rough sleepers
  • Forest Churches Emergency Winter Night Shelters (FCENS)
  • Change Grow Live (CGL) Outreach Service
  • During this Covid-19 crisis we have closed the night shelters as it was not possible for people using the shelters to self-isolate safely

What happens during cold weather?

There is a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) in Waltham Forest. It comes into force during periods of severe weather (0°c or below). It provides emergency shelter to all rough sleepers.

 

The following charities and agencies help people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless:

  • Shelter - provides advice, support and legal services
  • Homeless UK - gives support and advice on accommodation and finding support services
  • No Second Night Out - focuses on helping people who are rough-sleeping for the first time

Leaving prison

Having spent time in prison or on remand does not mean we will automatically treat you as vulnerable and in priority need for housing. We will consider:

  • 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
  • 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

If you are threatened with homelessness, or are homeless, we have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live.

We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending viewings or private sector or supported housing or engaging with organisations’ that can assist ex-offenders.

Offenders serving sentences of 12 months or more are released on licence and live in the community supervised by the probation service until the end of their sentence. If you are released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, as long as you have spent a continuous period of at least twelve months in custody.

Leaving hospital

If you are in hospital and are worried you will be homeless when you are discharged you should tell the hospital nursing staff as soon as possible. They will ask the hospital discharge team to support you.

The discharge team may refer you to the who will assess your situation.

The Preventions and Assessment Team will try to identify housing problems at the earliest opportunity to hopefully prevent you from becoming homeless. If you are threatened with homelessness or are homeless, we have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live.

We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending viewings or private sector or supported housing.

If you have a home already but it needs to be adapted, the hospital will refer you to the Occupational Therapy Team in your local authority through adult social care. If you meet the qualifying criteria, they should arrange an assessment of your needs. You may qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant to pay for any adaptations works needed but this will need to be determined by Waltham Forest's Home Improvement Agency.

Help available for older people

Old age does not confer a priority need for accommodation. We will look at all your personal circumstances and take into account information we gather from various sources including any medical professionals involved in your care. Even if we do not have a statutory duty to provide accommodation, we will still actively work with you to try to resolve your housing need.

The Preventions and Assessment Team will try to identify housing problems at the earliest opportunity to hopefully prevent you from becoming homeless. If you are threatened with homelessness, or are homeless, we have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live.

We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending viewings or private sector or supported housing or engaging with organisations’ that can assist older people.

People over 50 who have housing and support needs can be housed in sheltered housing schemes. The properties are mainly one-bedroom flats, with a small number of two-bedroom flats and studio flats. All homes have an emergency alarm and most have secured phone-entry systems. Apply for sheltered housing.

Older people, who wish to move out of Waltham Forest, may wish to consider the national social mobility scheme. The Seaside and Country Homes offers older tenants of London’s councils and housing associations the opportunity to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can find out more by following the link  Seaside and Country Homes scheme.

Care leavers

Once you turn 18 and are ready to consider living independently you may want to apply for Council Housing. Any decision regarding independent living will be made in discussion with your leaving care coach, to ensure it’s in your best interest. As a care leaver you’ll be given priority when bidding for council housing. For more information on support available to Care Leavers visit the Waltham Forest Directory.

Mental illness or impairment

The Prevention and Assessment Team will try to identify housing problems at the earliest opportunity to hopefully prevent you from becoming homeless. We have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live.

 We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending property viewings in the private sector or engaging with organisations’ that can assist people suffering from mental illness.

Ex-Armed Forces personnel

The Preventions and Assessment Team will try to identify housing problems at the earliest opportunity to hopefully prevent you from becoming homeless. If you are threatened with homelessness, or are homeless, we have a duty to assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find you somewhere to live.

We will provide you with a ‘personal housing plan’ which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending viewings or private sector or supported housing or engaging with organisations’ that can assist ex-service personnel.

This could include:

  • the Royal British Legion who might be able to help with a rent deposit.
  • SSAFA who provide housing advice to people currently serving in the forces and ex-service personnel and their families. 
  • veterans housing support services like Stoll
  • veterans gateway is a government website designed to be the first point of contact for veterans seeking support

If you become homeless you should also be treated as being vulnerable and therefore in priority need for accommodation if you can show that your vulnerability is as a result of being a former member of the armed forces.

When deciding this, we will consider:

  • how long you were in the forces and what role you had
  • if you spent any time in a military hospital
  • if you were released from service on medical grounds
  • if you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left
  • how long it has been since you left service

Cedar Wood House is no longer open, and we continue to deliver our services, online, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday  However, should a resident require a face to face interview, this can be arranged virtually with the use of Microsoft Teams or via Zoom.  These are IT applications that can be downloaded onto an Android or iPhone, if you are unable to download these IT applications onto your phone, laptop, tablet or any other device we can arrange for you to attend a library for an online interview to be conducted. 

If you require help with housing now, please use our online help tool. By answering a few questions about your situation, it will explain your housing options, tell you what to do next, that you need to see us urgently and what documents you will need to bring.

PLEASE DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO STAY.

Landlords Click to get info

Many private tenants have been furloughed during the COV-19 pandemic and continue to experience hardship which may have impacted their ability to pay their rent.

During this time, we have asked for landlords:

  • to be flexible and initiate open conversations with tenants at the earliest opportunity. 
  • agree on a way forward such as agreeing to an affordable rent repayment plan before taking action through the court
  • managing disputes via mediation and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the dispute.

Ending of the eviction ban

The ban on private rented sector evictions ended on 31 May 2021, where the notice period of 6 months has been reduced to 4 months.

Landlords are likely to experience a backlog in Possession Order cases going through the Court process and Waltham Forest will act against Landlords who evict tenants illegally, were able to offer advice and guidance to Landlords on how to end a tenancy legally.

We can offer a financial incentive to eligible Private landlords in the borough who are willing to renew an existing tenancy to prevent a household from becoming homeless.

Where it is not possible to renew an existing private tenancy, we will aim to work with your tenant to help them find a new private rented home.

Incentives

  • Financial incentive of £1200 to Landlords to renew an existing tenancy for a further period of 12 months
  • Reimbursement of Court Fees where a landlord agrees to renew a private tenancy to prevent a household from becoming homeless
  • Financial assistance for private tenants to help reduce rent arrears
  • Financial assistance for private tenants to meet a temporary shortfall between their income and their rent
  • Financial assistance to private tenants in the form of deposit and/or rent-in-advance to help them move to another privately rented home.

The scheme is only available where the current tenant has an existing open homeless application with the Council and/or where we have notified the tenant that we have accepted a housing duty. 

How to contact us

If you are a Landlord and want to know more about our Incentive Schemes for renewing an existing tenancy that would prevent a household becoming homeless or have a tenant who has been impacted by the Pandemic and may be struggling to meet their rental commitments, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at; Housing.Advice@walthamforest.gov.uk

Contact Housing Advice Click to get info

Email: housing.advice@walthamforest.gov.uk

Phone: 020 8496 3000

Out-of-hours phone: 020 8496 3000