Case Management Guidebook

Comprehensive guidance and support to professionals working in homeless and drug services

C: Requires long-term housing

Stage C) Needs long-term housing

1 Overview

Whenever possible, a person should be moved directly into appropriate housing, with supports as required, rather than spend time in temporary/homeless accommodation. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify the type of housing (and supports) that someone requires, in order to assist them to move out of homelessness as soon as possible.

It is important to explore all of the housing options available that are suitable including: 

  • Local authority social housing.
  • Approved housing body (housing association social housing).
  • Social Housing Investment Programme (new Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government leasing arrangement).
  • Local authority housing for older people.
  • Private rented housing.
  • Rental Accommodation Scheme housing.
  • Various forms of long-term supported housing (on a continuum from apartments with communal facilities and day staff to residential homes with 24-hour staff cover).

While discussing the person’s housing history with them it is important to note various other issues that may arise in relation to why they left an address, or why one or more tenancies broke down.

The purpose of taking the person’s housing history is to summarise their past experience of housing and to identify issues which have prevented them from maintaining their home.

It is important to show that someone is ‘from’ a particular local authority area in order for them to be accepted as being homeless from that area. Therefore, the housing history should provide infor-mation about where the service user has lived, including their last permanent address (i.e. where they lived for a period of two years or more).

The housing history may indicate a person’s needs in terms of maintaining their accommodation. It may also provide information in relation to any experience of domestic violence.

If the service user has temporary accommodation, which is secure for a defined period, the following steps should be taken:

Step 1: Clarify the range of long-term options open to them with regard to their particular needs and support them in pursuing these options. Make referrals to appropriate service providers (see Listings: Accommodation/Homelessness Accomodation Providers: Long-term Supported housing).

Step 2: In order to explore housing options, the service user should be assisted to:

  • Register with the Local Authority Assessment and Placement Service.
  • Identify which local authority area they are from.
  • Contact the local authority homeless section and register on the housing/homeless list.
  • Stay in regular contact with the Local Authority Assessment and Placement Service in order to maintain their progress on a pathway out of homelessness.

Step 3: A range of services is available to provide support to people to move into housing and/or maintain their homes. These services include:

  • Settlement (and related services).
  • Tenancy Sustainment.
  • Some transitional/independent living programmes are available to people in their own home.
  • Home help services are available through the Local Health Office.
  • Some voluntary bodies provide other support in housing (from meals on wheels to volunteer befriending services).
  • The Housing Support Service is currently being established under the Support to Live Independently (SLÍ) Scheme.

2 Local authority social housing waiting list

The length of time a person/family will be on a social housing waiting list will depend on a number of factors. The local authority must be satisfied that the service user will be able to maintain the tenancy. The service user’s areas of preference are also a factor, as some housing areas are in higher demand than others. As a case manager, you should encourage the service user to consider as many geographical areas as possible. Generally, the more flexible the service user is in terms of area, the better chance they have of being offered accommodation. Prior to an offer of accommodation a local authority has the right to carry out an ‘estate management’ check. A local authority has the right to refuse to house someone who has been involved in serious anti-social or criminal behaviour.

3 Estate management check and local authority social housing refusal

Step 1: If an application is denied, it is necessary to request the reason for refusal in writing from the local authority.

Step 2: If the service user wishes, an appeal can be filed. This generally requires the case manager to submit a letter setting out the individual’s case and focusing on support plan achievements, supports and their ability to live independently. Obtaining a number of supporting letters from involved agencies will strengthen the case.

4 Exclusion/eviction from private rented housing

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) deals with disputes between private landlords and tenants. Service users should be referred to the PRTB, which also provides a specialist advocacy service to assist tenants/ex-tenants at hearings. (See Listings: Accommodation/ Homelessness/Day Centres Practical Support and Advice).

The voluntary body Threshold can help people in their dealings with the PRTB. Threshold is also a general source of information, advice and advocacy for people in relation to the private rented sector. Threshold has prepared a PRTB handbook to assist in its work with the PRTB. This sets out the criteria Threshold uses to decide if it will represent a service user in a case. It also contains information on the obligations that arise for Threshold and the client when Threshold acts as advocate for a client at the PRTB. (See Listings: Accommodation/ Homelessness/Day Centres Practical Support and Advice).

5 Exclusion/eviction from local authority housing

The local authority carries out evictions on foot of a warrant from the district court. If a person feels they have been unfairly evicted they should seek legal advice.

6 Ending a joint tenancy in local authority housing

If the joint tenant agrees to give up their interest in the tenancy, they can do this if the rent is up to date. If there are arrears, either they must agree to pay a share of these or the remaining tenant must agree to take over the arrears.

If a service user’s joint tenant agrees to have their name taken off the rent book, the local authority or housing association will do this. However, if they refuse to have their name removed, it is more compli-cated, and the service user will have to provide evidence that the relationship has broken down.

Where difficulties arise, the local authority social work department may be able to offer assistance in making this case.

If a service user is left living alone in the family home, the local authority or housing association may consider that their home is too large for them and offer them alternative accommodation.

If inheriting a tenancy in local authority housing from a deceased family member, the service user must be able to prove they have been resident there for the previous two years.

7 Accessing private rented accommodation

Threshold’s Access Housing Unit (AHU), and a number of other settlement-type services can provide support in helping people move from homelessness into private rented housing. (See Listings: Accommodation/ Homelessness: Settlement:Day Centres Practical Support and Advice).

8 Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)

Generally, the national requirement for this scheme is that the person/family has been in receipt of rental assistance for over 18 months.

Dublin City Council also operates this scheme in a targeted way for homeless people. The scheme is only for people with low support needs and relevant supports in place. Referrals are made through relevant statutory organisations such as DCC resettlement, DCC welfare section, DCC housing allocations, or the HPU. Three pilot projects for homeless people have been operating for the past year through Direct Service Provision (DSP), Threshold and Focus Ireland. These pilot projects are nearly completed, and there are limited opportunities available currently.

General information on the RAS can be accessed from the DCC office on 01-222 5004.

9 Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP)

A new long-term leasing scheme, the Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP), which is funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is now in place. The scheme will allow local authorities to source units of social housing, thereby providing long-term housing options for people who are homeless.

10 Support to Live Independently (SLÍ) scheme

The new Support to Live Independently (SLÍ) scheme provides housing support to households moving from homelessness into mainstream accommodation.