Options in North Wiltshire
Generally, housing options
available to single homeless adults claiming benefits or on
low incomes are very limited in North Wiltshire.
current Homelessness legislation the local housing authority
(Wiltshire District Council) is required to investigate cases
of homelessness and make decisions on the following issues,
before it can accept a duty to provide accommodation for a
homeless applicant :-
- Is the applicant eligible?
i.e. are they a British citizen?
- Is the
applicant actually homeless? i.e. do they have a legal
right to accomodation anywhere in the UK or abroad, that
is reasonable for them to occupy
- Did the
applicant become homeless intentionally? i.e. has the
person done or ceased to do something that means that
the accomodation available to them is no longer available?
- Do they
have 'priority need'? see
- Do they have a local connection?
i.e. does the person have a local connection with the
area that they are applying for housing?
Priority Need Groups
The Council has a duty to
re-house homeless applicants who are in a priority group
and are not intentionally homeless. The priority groups
The Homelessness Act 2002 added
the following groups to the priority categories:-
- 16 and 17 year olds (unless
the responsibility of Social Services
- Care leavers aged 18 to
- Anyone who is vulnerable
as a result of fleeing violence, having served in the Armed
Forces, having served a prison sentence or having been in
Please note that it is for
the local authority-investigating officer to decide on whether
or not an applicant fits any of these categories, the threshold
of vulnerability varies from organisation to organisation
and is one of the most contentious issues.
As a result
of the legislation, most homeless adults without dependent
children are assessed as "not having priority need"
even if they satisfy all the other criteria.
In the first
two quarters of 2005/2006, North Wiltshire District Council
received 45 applications under the Homeless Persons legislation
from families with children and accepted a duty to provide
accommodation for 41.
same period, they received applications from 54 adults without
dependent children and accepted a duty to re-house only 29.
are entitled to register on the general housing waiting list
which allocates points to each case according to need and
time spent in the area.
Housing Association, the main social housing provider, has
1-bedroom units in the area and 885 on the waiting list for
this category. In 2004/2005 only 78 general 1-bedroom vacancies
occurred, which means that for most single homeless applicants
there will be no quick solution.
In North Wiltshire,
the Citizen's Advice Bureau is currently funded to provide
housing advice by the local housing authority. From April
to September 2005, they received 211 housing enquiries from
single people, some of whom were homeless or threatened with
homelessness, but unfortunately information about outcomes
is not readily available.
advice, our experience shows that many do not go on to register
as homeless with the local authority since they believe they
have no case.
accommodation in North Wiltshire is expensive and generally
landlords are reluctant to accept Housing Benefit claimants
of the homeless people who approach the centre do not have
funds to either pay rent in advance or to pay a deposit. The
local authority has a Rent Deposit Scheme to assist homeless
people to move into private accommodation, but this is only
available to applicants who are in "priority need".
Access Hostels / Night Shelters
House opened as referral based hostel accommodation in Chippenham
in September 2009. However, the 15 bed accomodation is always
full with a waiting list from the entire of Wiltshire. The
other nearest hostels / shelters are based in the larger towns
and cities : Swindon, Bath and Bristol.
Doorway guests have long-standing connections with Chippenham
or North Wiltshire and are reluctant to move out of the area
to hostels which many regard as dangerous and hostile places.
about a third of guests are sleeping rough when they first
approach the Doorway centre, they rapidly take up offers of
help from friends and aquaintances and become lost among the
'hidden homeless' in the area.