The 3 biggest mistakes support agencies make when representing someone in housing need.
01/10/15 11:05 Filed in: tips
If you are supporting or formally representing a person who is homeless or in housing need, it is important to understand the correct ways to most successfully present their situation to their Local Authority. And the incorrect ways.
1. Firstly, it is important to believe everything your client tells you. Definitely don’t carry out any investigations or actually verify anything your clients says. Submit what you have been told verbatim to your Local Authority as FACT. They will obviously investigate everything very thoroughly and when what they find doesn’t match what you have told them, it will make them doubt their own findings and believe you instead. It will also make you look much more credible as an organisation.
2. Everyone loves a winner, so when representing a client, tell your Local Authority how well your client has done whilst homeless. Emphasise if possible how they have overcome drug addiction or alcohol misuse, even whilst homeless. If they have successfully engaged with services or overcome any kind of adversity to still triumph against all odds even when homeless, write it in bold, so that your Local Authority really know that they are dealing with a true ‘go-getter’ here. Let them know that this person has done everything possible to pull themselves together and turn their life around even when homeless, so that the only missing, remaining, final piece needed is accommodation, whereupon they will be a veritable model tenant.
Who could fail to say that this person should be helped above all others? The Local Authority are very unlikely to think that this means that the person is coping far better when homeless than an ‘ordinary’ person.
3. Finally, it’s always a good idea to let your client go to the Local Authority homeless department on their own. Who better to explain their situation to a highly trained specialist professional skilled in interpreting a baroque area of legislation little changed since the time of the black death which inspired its creation than a member of the general public? It is called ‘public law’ after all remember.
If you go along as well you are more than likely going to muddy the waters with questions about homelessness, priority need and obscure tests of whether a person really is vulnerable. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and these people really are the specialists you know. It just makes everything more difficult if you turn up with your client and start probing and questioning the reasoning of the housing advisor. Remember; a good service is a quick service. I’m sure neither you nor your client want to be sitting in an interview room for any longer than you have to do you?
So there you have it. 3 quick tips for taking a strategic approach to getting someone housed.
This is based on real-life experiences which are encountered repeatedly in housing departments across the land. The scenarios given above are probably the most common ways in which representation of a homeless person (or anyone in housing need) by a support organisation either actively hurts that person’s application or doesn’t play enough of an active part to make a difference (and yes, I do appreciate the impact of stretched resources, on everyone). They come into play every time information is submitted to a housing department; at initial approach, at s184 homeless application level and most importantly, at the s202 review level.
Much more detailed information is set out in the book ‘Get Housed.