Homelessness Law in England is excellent. It guarantees some level of assistance for anyone who is homeless and in many cases results in a rapid offer of safe housing.
The only problem is, council ‘gatekeeping’ – where councils fail to offer assistance when they should, is a widespread problem (see the LGO report here).
Gatekeeping frustrates the purpose of the Law and ultimately leaves many people homeless who should be assisted into their own home. JustUs was set up specifically to advocate for people in Bedford when they’re homeless to access the statutory support they are eligible for. In the vast majority of cases, our clients have been housed following our intervention.
People can be referred from other services or can self-refer. We respond quickly and meet with the person to work out whether they are likely to be eligible for help from the council and we then approach the council with as much information as possible to make the process run smoothly. We will often work with other professionals to gather additional information in support of the person’s approach for assistance and sometimes we need to use the appeal process when someone initially gets knocked back.
Our work also requires multi-agency approaches between many different sectors and this can be an excellent opportunity for us to ensure that the person’s wishes are heard and that best practice is observed.
Where councils have failed to deliver their service lawfully, we work with the person to seek redress, and this has resulted in council procedures being improved, as well as having resulted in financial compensation for people who have been found to have suffered injustice as a result.