Accommodation for young people leaving care
- Where do we start?
- Staying put
- Supported accommodation
- Semi-independent accommodation
- Training flats
- Settled accommodation
- University accommodation
- Friends and family
- What if you don't want to live in Wandsworth when you leave care?
- What if you don't have your immigration status yet?
- Accommodation options for young parents
- What happens when things go wrong?
Housing and accommodation is one of the most complicated and important parts of a young person’s Pathway Plan. This information is here to help you understand your options as a care experienced young person in Wandsworth.
There are lots of myths out there and we know that this information won’t answer all of your questions. The best places to get information are the people who are supporting you like your carers, your personal advisor, your social worker, and your Independent Reviewing Officer.
What is really important to understand is what the word ‘Settled Accommodation’ means. People used to talk about ‘permanent accommodation’, ‘my permanent council Flat’ or ‘my permanent flat’- you need to know that this does not exist any more. The word that we use now is ‘Settled Accommodation’.
We hope this information helps you to start to understand the options that you have- the key thing is to ask as many questions as you can!
- Your Housing and Accommodation journey starts with you learning how to do all the basic lifeskills that you will need, while you are still Looked After. Learn how to wash your clothes, cook, clean, budget your money and manage yourself safely while you have carers and keyworkers around to help you. Don’t miss a chance to get those skills nailed!! You should be able to wash your own clothes, save for things that you want and cook at least one meal before you turn 16!
- HAVE YOUR SAY!! Your Pathway Plan is YOUR plan. If you don’t take part in reviewing it, how will people know what accommodation you want when you turn 18? Your Pathway Plan is the most important tool to get what you want so use it!
- Come to Click, ClickPlus and our monthly Housing group called Future House to talk to other young people and learn more about the reality of living independently.
- You should get a personal advisor from Future First on or around your 16th Birthday. Your personal advisor will be supporting you as you make the journey into adulthood so start talking to them now about what your options are and what you want to do.
- Make sure you have ID! Get your passport, Provisional License and any other Photo ID that you can BEFORE you turn 17. Have it ready, keep it safe because you will need it!
- Don’t take other people’s word for it - go and visit! Ask your personal advisor and your social worker to take you to see some of the accommodation options long before you need to make any decisions. This is too big a part of your life to just take other people’s word for it- go and see if for yourself.
- Future First run a Life Skills Course. This amazing course is for all 16+ young people and you should aim to complete it before you turn 18. Not done it yet? Talk to your PA. You cannot get on the Social Care Queue until you have completed the 5 Core Modules of the Life Skills Course so get booked on asap!.
What's your care leaving legal status?
There are four different Legal Status’ for Care Leavers: Eligible, Relevant, Former Relevant and Qualifying. This information is useful for all Care Leavers, but if you have the legal status of a ‘Qualifying’ Care Leaver, you need to know that the Housing Support you are offered is a bit different. Please speak to your personal advisor about what being ‘qualifying’ means in terms of your Housing entitlements because this information is designed for Eligible, Relevant and Former Relevant young people.
Not sure what your legal status is? Find out which group you belong to and your leaving care status.
The big 5
These are the 5 biggest questions that young people have asked us about Housing and Accommodation. Please don’t forget that your personal advisor from Future First, your social worker, your Carers and the people around you that you trust will be supporting you and can answer any questions that you have!
How will I pay me rent after I turn 18? What will I live on?
When you turn 18, whatever sort of Accommodation you are living in can be paid for in one of these ways:
- If you are not working, if you are at College or if you are only working part time, you will be able to claim benefits that will pay your rent. This will be:
- Housing Benefit if you are living somewhere where you get support from somebody like a Keyworker, a support service or a carer or where your tenancy agreement has ‘Supported’ in the title
- Universal Credit if you are living somewhere where you do not get any sort of support and where your tenancy agreement does not have ‘supported’ in the title.
- If you are working Full-time or if you have got over £16,000 in your bank account, you will be expected to pay your own rent from your wages or from your savings.
Each week, you will be expected to buy your food, pay your service charges or gas/electric bills and pay for all of the things you need (clothes, phone bill, travel, socialising, toiletries) from your Universal Credit or your wages if you are working. Universal Credit is only £79.80 per week (April 2021) and from that, you need to be able to afford everything that you need. It’s a really hard thing to do!
Your Pathway Plan is designed to help you budget and your personal advisor and social worker should be helping you to get these skills nailed before you turn 18.
To claim any of these benefits you will need your National Insurance Number, Photo ID (Passport/Travel Document/provisional license) and you will also need a Birth Certificate/Home Office Letters and ID.
Is it true that the best flats go to the people with good relationships with their workers?
There is a myth that young people are ‘chosen’ for particular Settled flats or properties. The reality is that nobody ‘chooses’- there are waiting lists and it is a case of whatever property becomes available when your name reaches the top of the list, that is the Settled Accommodation that you are offered.
This means that you might get a really large flat with a garden BUT your mate might get a smaller studio flat on the 12th floor. Your mate might be jealous but the truth is that it is just sheer luck. What you have to do is turn whatever you get offered, into a nice home for yourself.
This information will explain what Accommodation options are out there. When it comes to who gets what Settled Accommodation, there is no choosing, there is no special treatment or rewards- it is just down to chance. All you can do is make the very best of the Settled home that you are offered.
Single people applying for Housing in Wandsworth can be offered Studios OR 1 bedroom properties - there is no guarantee that you will get either. Be prepared to be offered a studio flat - you cannot turn it down simply because you ‘want’ a 1 bedroom property.
If I don't like the flat that the Council offer me in the future, I can just turn it down yeah?
Unless the property is in a dangerous or really bad structural state (that does not include cosmetic issues like dirty paintwork or broken cupboards/windows), if you turn down the offer of a ‘suitable property’, you will be removed from the waiting list for 2 years.
A property is considered suitable if:
- It’s big enough for the number of people in your household. If you are a single person, then this means you can be offered studio OR 1 bedroom flats and both are considered suitable. If you turn a studio flat down because you wanted a 1 bedroom instead, you will be taken off the Housing List for 2 years.
- It’s suitable if it’s in an area that you said you could live in on your application form. When you fill in the application form you are asked what areas you can live in. You need to tick as many areas as possible but if you are offered a flat somewhere and it was on your list of ‘safe areas’, you have to take it. You can update your form if your situation changes before you get offered a flat but otherwise, you have to accept what you are offered
- It’s suitable as long as there is no serious medical reason why the flat is not suitable. Again, you need to put all important medical information in your application and only the most serious conditions and disabilities are taken into account.
Once you are contacted by the Housing Department to offer you a property, you must go to see the property (called ‘viewing’ it). This must be something that you do in person and you should take your personal advisor with you. This viewing will take place within a couple of days of being offered it and you do need to make yourself available to go and see the property. You should be offered at least 24 hours to make a decision about the property. If you are being pressured to make a decision on the spot, your personal advisor will support you in ensuring that you get time to make a decision. Please remember though that you can only turn it down if it is ‘unsuitable’- this is explained above.
When you go to see your Settled flat for the first time, your personal advisor will bring a checklist with them of things that need to be working or things that need to be fixed before you move in. However, most flats need painting, decorating, carpeting and ‘making nice’ when you first see them. You will be turning it into a home after you move in - what you are seeing when you visit is the space itself!
How will I afford my furniture and carpets and stuff?
Every former relevant young person leaving care has a £2,500 Setting up Home Grant that helps to pay for the bigger, expensive things like carpet, cooker, fridge freezer, bed and sofa in their Settled Accommodation. However it’s not enough to buy everything. Here are our tips and hints:
- When you leave care, you get given your savings. Do exactly that- SAVE IT!! If you’ve been Looked After for a long time, those savings could be big money! Leave that cash in a nice savings account and then when you are ready for your own home, you can splash the cash!! Furnishing a Settled Flat is really expensive- don’t waste your savings because you’ll regret it!
- Get a part time job! Life is expensive and the only way you will be able to buy all of the things you want for your flat is if you start saving money soon. Price up all the things you would want in your dream flat - give yourself a bit of shock at how much it will all cost!!
- Future First will pay for one Moving Van for you when you move into your Settled Accommodation - this might help you to collect any things that friends or family can give you for your new place.
- Some Housing Associations offer decorating grants - make sure you ask about this when you go with your personal advisor to view the property.
- Shop smart - second hand is not second best......there are bargains and deals out there. Some of our young people (and staff!) have got AMAZING stuff from local Freebay sites and if you start looking at those websites now, you will know how to find them when you need them.
- Your personal advisor can help you apply to a few Care Leaver’s organisations that do grants for young people. This will help you to buy some of the stuff that your Setting Up Home Grant can’t cover.
If you are in custody and need to purchase things like kettles or other household items via the canteen system, you are able to use your Setting Up Home Grant for this as long as you confirm that you will be taking those items with you when you are released.
Will I get my own settled flat on my 18th birthday?
This is the biggest question of them all and the short answer is ‘No’ for nearly everyone. It’s ‘no’ for a lot of reasons:
- No young person should have to move on the day of their 18th Birthday. 18th Birthdays are for celebrations, relaxing and spending time with the people who care about you. They should NOT be spent moving boxes and settling into a new place. If you are being asked to move on your 18th Birthday, please let your IRO, your social worker/their manager or your carers know that this is not acceptable. Show them this leaflet.
- No young person can be ‘active’ on the council Waiting list until they turn 18 so you will definitely not get one on your 18th Birthday.
- If you decide that you want to privately rent your own flat, and you may need to have your own money available to pay for a Guarantor scheme, you still won’t be able to move in on your 18th Birthday because you can’t apply to those Guarantor schemes until you are actually 18.
The reality is that there is not enough council Housing to go around. Each year, we only get a set number of properties offered to Care Experienced young people and the waiting list is long.
When you ‘Stay Put’ you are becoming a tenant in your Foster Carer’s home. You are being given more responsibilities and Staying Put means that you:
- Pay for all your own toiletries, clothes, travel, expenses, socialising, clubs, and activities yourself
- You should be cooking for yourself wherever possible
- You should be doing all of your own washing and cleaning
- You have to stick to the ‘Living Together’ arrangements
- You should have shown that you can do every single one of the skills in the ‘Life Skills Checklist’ by the time your Staying Put arrangement ends and you move into your own Settled Accommodation.
In Wandsworth, we have over 90 spaces in flat-shares, accommodation projects, houses and bedsits which young people can live while they learn the skills they need to cope in Settled Accommodation.
Supported Accommodation comes in all different shapes and sizes and is spread all over the Borough of Wandsworth. We even have an amazing shared house in Chessington in Surrey, for young people who don’t want to (or can’t) live in Wandsworth itself.
Centrepoint, Nacro, Ekaya and Future First run these properties. Some of them are High support with staff there 24 hours, some have staff who visit a few times a week, some have Resident Volunteers who actually live in the house/flat with a group of young people to offer them support and some are just a couple of people sharing a flat with floating support
You, your social worker and your personal advisor need to work together to decide what level of support you want and need and which Supported Accommodation is the best one for you.
Key things to know about supported accommodation
- The aim of Supported accommodation is to get you ready for your Settled Accommodation! You are expected to work with an allocated keyworker or a resident volunteer to work through the targets in support plan so that you have all the skills you need to move onto your settled accommodation as quickly as possible. If you miss keyworking sessions without a good reason, you will get warning letters and could be evicted.
- You will get a License Agreement or a short-term tenancy agreement which is a contract that lays out the rules and expectations for you.
- You will, in nearly all of these, have to share kitchens, bathrooms and lounges and so it is really important that you understand the rules of the projects so that everyone gets along! - They are furnished so you won’t need to buy furniture
- You have to pay your own rent and you will also need to pay a weekly service charge for electricity/gas, the support you get, water and wifi which can be between £12-18 per week depending on which accommodation you are in. If you don’t pay this, you may get evicted.
- You’ll get the chance to meet new people and develop friendships with the people that you share with
- There are social events, activities and resident meetings for everyone living in Supported Accommodation.
- You will have your own lockable room and a key for that door.
- You’ll have to pay your rent and service charge and if you don’t, you may be evicted
- You have to keep your room and the spaces that you use clean and tidy
- You’ll have space to store your food and cooking stuff safely
- You’ll be cooking for yourself and you will have to budget your money for everything, including your clothes, travel, toiletries, socialising, phone costs and anything else that you normally buy.
- You have to stay at the accommodation at least 4 nights a week. Any less than that, you are breaking your tenancy agreement.
- The longest you can stay in Supported Accommodation is 2 years.
We are developing some more detailed information about all of these properties but in the meantime, please ask your social worker, your personal advisor, your carers or anyone else that you trust to take you to visit some of these properties so that you can see what they are like.
If you haven’t been living with foster carers before you turn 18, we want to support you to make a plan that keeps you close to the people who you know and who have supported you when you were in Care, while you build up your independence skills to get you ready for Settled Accommodation.
Key things to know about semi-independent accommodation
- Semi-Independent accommodation is accommodation which is mostly outside of Wandsworth Borough and is often run by private companies or Residential Children’s Homes.
- They are often flats, rooms or bedsits, close to where the young person lived before they turned 18, where a support worker keeps an eye on you and help you to build up your skills.
- They are furnished so you won’t need to buy furniture
- You will have your own lockable room and a key for that door.
- You will be expected to pay some of your rent and there may well be a service charge which is between £5-20 a week depending on what facilities are in the accommodation. If you don’t pay those charges, you may be evicted.
- You will need to work with your personal advisor and review your Pathway Plan. If you don’t use the support that it being offered to you, you might lose your place.
- You should be prepared to share a bathroom, kitchen and lounge with other residents as not many semi-independent accommodations have private bathrooms or kitchens.
Future First have a small number of Training Flats, where young people can ‘test out’ their skills before moving on to Settled Accommodation. We only have a few of these flats and they are popular. If a Training Flat is something that you want to have offered to you, it needs to be in your Pathway Plan and it needs to be planned well in advance!
Key things to know about training flats
- They are furnished
- You are responsible for paying your rent, service charge and gas/ electric/water bills
- You aren’t able to decorate a Training Flat
- You have to stick to your tenancy agreement and if you don’t, you may be asked to leave the training flat and go back into Supported Accommodation.
What is really important to understand is what the word ‘Settled Accommodation’ means. People used to talk about ‘permanent accommodation’, ‘my permanent council Flat’ or ‘my permanent flat’- you need to know that this does not exist any more. The word that we use now is ‘Settled Accommodation’
‘Settled Accommodation’ comes in four different forms
- council owned and managed
- Housing Association owned and managed properties
- Privately Rented Accommodation.
- Owner Occupier (where you have a Mortgage and own all or part of the property)
As a care experienced young person, the council can offer you these types of Accommodation as your Settled Accommodation.
Council owned and managed accommodation
Every council has a Housing Waiting List. Lists come in lots of different shapes and sizes but all of them will not let you ‘put your name’ on the list until you have actually turned 18.
In Wandsworth, we have a special, priority list for Care Experienced young people. This is called The Social Care Queue. Even though this list makes Care Experienced young people a priority, it can still be a long wait before you get offered anything. It can be anything up to 2/3 years sometimes. This is because we have nearly 500 young people that we support and the council only allocate us a set number of properties each year- once those properties have been offered to our Care Leavers, we get no more in that year. This is why it’s a long wait sometimes and why it’s important that every young person looks at all the options that they have for Settled Accommodation and not just focus on the SCQ.
To get on the Social Care Queue (SCQ), you have to have proved that you are a good tenant who pays their bills and sticks to the rules. Your personal advisor has to include a Risk Assessment and a Support Plan for your Social Care Queue application to go through. If you have not shown that you can pay your bills and be a good tenant, the Housing Department won’t allow you onto the SCQ.
The Settled Accommodation that the council offer from the SCQ can be:
- 1 bedroom or Studio flats. What you are offered depends completely on what flat becomes available when you get to the top of the list. The Housing Department in the council are the ones who decide which properties are available to offer and who is next on the list.
- 2 or 3 bedroom properties are only available for Parents who have children that are already born and who have a Birth Certificate you won’t get a 2 bedroom property if you are still pregnant.
- The majority of Wandsworth Council properties are in High Rise Blocks - council tenants are usually given an introductory tenancy, which is like a trial tenancy that runs for a year. During this trial year, introductory tenants can be evicted if they do not keep to the conditions of their tenancy agreement.
- After the first year, providing the tenancy has been maintained with no problems, you will be offered a flexible fixed term tenancy. The duration of a flexible fixed term tenancy can be between 2 and 5 years. After this period your housing circumstances will be reviewed again to assess whether you still need social housing.
How does the decision get made that I am ready for Settled Accommodation via the SCQ?
That is pretty simple really- your Pathway Plan! You, your personal advisor and all of the people who support you should be working together to make sure that all of the targets in your plan are on track, including things like paying your rent and sticking by the rules. As soon as you have shown that you have done the following:
- Pay your bills on time for a period of at least 3 months
- Shown that you are able to manage your money and take care of yourself (cooking, cleaning, staying healthy and safe)
- Have done the Life Skills course (starting in April 2021)
- Stick to the rules of your tenancy agreement
There is also a Monthly Accommodation liaison Meeting when all of the Managers from Nacro, Ekaya, Centrepoint, Housing, Future First and the Placements team meet up to identify which young people are ready for their own accommodation.
What if my personal advisor and keyworker doesn’t think I’m ready to go on the SCQ but I feel like I am and I don’t want to wait?
If you want to go on the SCQ Waiting list but the people supporting you don’t think you are ready to go on the SCQ, you can still go onto the General Needs Housing List in Wandsworth. This does not give you the same priority status as care experienced young person as the SCQ does but you are able to put your application in whenever as long as you meet the criteria.
This list is a really, really long one and it can take many years to be housed. Our advice would be: If people don’t think you’re ready for the SCQ, put all of your energy into proving them wrong while you stay where you are!
Don’t feel your voice is being heard about being ready for your own place at 18+? Speak first of all to your personal advisor but if you still don’t feel it’s sorted, speak to their Manager (their contact details are in your Pathway Plan).
You can also contact Coram Voice if you want support getting it resolved on Freephone 0808 800 5792.
Housing Association owned and managed properties
Through the SCQ, the council can offer you settled accommodation in a home which is owned by something called a Housing Association
If you get a Housing Association home, it means your landlord is not the council, it’s the Housing Association. Some big Housing Associations that you may have heard of are London and Quadrant, Peabody Trust, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Southern Housing.
Future First is also able to directly refer young people for a particular group of Wandle, Optivo, Family Mosaic and Peabody properties that are available for specifically for Wandsworth Care Leavers. These studio/1 bedroom properties are almost all in the Borough but most of them are ‘full’ and we don’t get them available to offer very often. When they do come up, we have to prioritise young people who urgently need to move out of their current accommodation or young people who have been in Supported Accommodation for over 2 years. These are allocated to the person at the top of the list at the point when a property is released to us.
The difference between these properties and the ones that get offered by the Social Care Queue is that at the minute, tenants for these 2 HOUSING ASSOCIATION OWNED AND MANAGED PROPERTIES Scan for more information Types of Social Housing 20 So what about accomodation properties have to claim Housing Benefit to pay their rent. Future First are working with Housing to change this and we hope to have this changed before the end of 2021. These properties do not allow the tenants to transfer or apply for a larger property (for example if they have a baby) and so if they need to move from an Optivo, Wandle, Peabody or Family Mosaic property, they have to go back on the Social Care Queue. Again, we hope to make some changes to this in 2021. Come to Future House each month to hear about how this work is going.
Privately Rented Accommodation
20% of all households in the UK rent their homes from Private Landlords compared to only 17% who live in Social Housing. Private Rented properties are flats and houses which landlords own and rent out to other people.
With private renting, the properties are advertised and you can choose where you live (take a look at zoopla.co.uk to see what sort of properties are available to rent in the area that you want to live). It’s down to the landlords and letting agents who they rent the properties to.
In Wandsworth, the maximum rent that Benefits will cover is about £295 per week but due to the Benefits cap, we recommend that Young People try and find a property which is less than £830 per month to privately rent. If you’d like more information about the Benefits Cap, read this Local housing allowance (LHA) for private renters - Shelter England
Even if you are working, you may be eligible for top up benefits if you are on a low income and there may be some grants that you can access. Get Support - Turn2us
You can rent a room in a shared house (cheaper) or your own studio flat. Affordable 1 bedroom flats are extremely rare! This is the support that Wandsworth Council offers with people who want to find Privately Rented accommodation Financial assistance to pay the rent or deposit - Wandsworth Council
Key things to know about privately rented accommodation
- Private rented properties come Furnished or unfurnished. Furnished flats mean that you don’t need to buy yourself a bed, sofa or kitchen appliances- this means you can save a lot of your Setting Up Home Grant!
- London is the most expensive place in the UK to privately rent. If you look outside London, even if it’s just outside London, you’ll see that it’s noticeably cheaper
- You can rent whole houses that you then share with friends. If you have a couple of friends who you would like to live with, you might want to consider renting a two or three bedroom property together as it would potentially be cheaper.
- Flats come and go quickly- if you are interested in a property you have to move pretty fast and although your personal advisor can advise and help you, you will still need to do a lot of work yourself.
- Private renting is complicated and although there is help available from the council with Deposits and Rent in advance, you may still need a guarantor, especially if you are not working.
- There are companies that act as Guarantors for you but they cost money (normally a cost of between 4-8 weeks rent). Future First do not currently act as Guarantors and we do not pay those fees. You will need to use your own savings or wages to pay this fee.
But everyone says that I shouldn’t privately rent because it’s not secure?
When the Housing Laws changed a few years ago, it removed some of the long-term status that council tenancies had. There is no such thing as a ‘Home for Life’ from the council any more.
Social Housing tenancies get reviewed every 2-5 years and if you do not need social housing anymore, the council can end the tenancy.
This means that private renting has become almost as secure an option as a council Tenancy for some young people and for those people who want to choose where they live and who don’t want to wait a long time for the council to offer them Settled Accommodation, Private Renting becomes something for them to think about.
Owning your own property
Some young people leaving care are working full-time and they want to own their own home.
This is an amazing thing to work towards. To be able to get a Mortgage (the loan that you need to buy a home) you need to be working, with a contract that you have had for at least 6 months and earning enough money to afford the mortgage.
Going to University is an amazing experience!
Your Uni, your personal advisor and the Virtual School will support you to plan for your accommodation but you will need to make sure that you can afford it and we do recommend that you organise accommodation that lasts for 52 weeks a year where you can.
University is an exciting opportunity but planning is key! University Accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes- we can’t cover them all here. These are the really important things:
- If you are going to study somewhere that you can’t travel to from where you are living now, you will need to leave your accommodation and move to accommodation nearer where you are studying. This is a big deal and so you need to start planning early using your Pathway Plan!
- The Law says that Leaving Care Services need to pay for Student’s Vacation Accommodation. This means that for the Summer and Christmas Breaks (Easter isn’t counted as a Vacation), Future First will definitely pay your rent OR provide you with somewhere to stay. This is 13 weeks of the year.
- You need to make sure that you have applied for all of your Student Finance so that you can pay for your accommodation when you need to
- Some Universities offer amazing deals for Care Experienced young people, some of which include free Accommodation! Speak to your Virtual School worker about these Uni’s BEFORE you make your applications so that you know what’s on offer!
- You also get a £2000 Uni Bursary from Future First which can go towards things like deposits etc for your accommodation at Uni.
- You’re definitely advised to get weekend and vacation jobs whilst a student, so that you can pay for your accommodation costs if you need to
We know that every single care experienced young person has their own journey and experiences.
We also know that for some young people when they turn 18, they make the decision to return to live with family or to live with their friends or partners. We will never ‘tell’ you what to do but we do want to help you make a decision that is right for you. If this is your plan, we will offer you something called a Life Long Links meeting before you turn 18, so that We know that some of you have been living in places away from Wandsworth and that some of you want to stay in that area when you leave care. you and your family/friends can plan exactly how you will support each other in this new arrangement. Your personal advisor and your social worker will also help you to work out exactly how you will financially support yourself if you decide to choose this option.
Future First will support you for up to six months if you return to live with parents. After that, you may not have an allocated personal advisor or Pathway Plan but you can get in touch with us to access our support at any time up to you turn 25.
We know that some of you have been living in places away from Wandsworth and that some of you want to stay in that area when you leave care.
We also know that for some Young People, coming back to Wandsworth isn’t an option because of personal reasons. We want to help you to live in a place where you are happy and safe.
What are your options?
- Your Pathway Plan should be clear about what is happening when you turn 18. Are you Staying Put with foster carers? Does your current accommodation have a Semi-Independent option that you can move to? Is there a Supported Accommodation option in your local area? All of these things should be clearly worked out in your Pathway Plan before you are 17 and a half AT THE LATEST. If they’re not, you need to let your IRO and your social worker know that you are not clear about what your options are.
- If you have lived in another area for more than 2 years, some of which was before you turned 16, you have a Local Connection with that area and you are entitled to Settled Housing there. This means that you can go on that area’s Housing Waiting List. Every area has a waiting list and so it won’t happen quickly but it does mean that you are entitled to be on the list.
- If you don’t want to live in Wandsworth because you don’t feel safe, Housing Departments will need evidence of this, before they offer to help you live somewhere else. Evidence is things like Police Reports, reports from Youth Offending Teams or Probation, letters of support from Domestic Abuse organisations as well as supporting evidence from your Future First PA. Unfortunately, if you do not have enough evidence that you are actually unsafe, you won’t be seen as a priority for Housing Departments to help. Your personal advisor will help you to work out what areas are safer than others and where in the Borough you might be able live, if you can’t get accommodation anywhere else.
- For some young people who live outside of Wandsworth, privately renting your Settled Home in another area might be your only option if you don’t need Supported Accommodation or SemiIndependent accommodation. It will be important that you plan this with your personal advisor and the people that you trust so that the process is successful. You will need to see what financial help your local council give for people wanting to Privately Rent.
- If you are homeless, Housed in Temporary Accommodation by the Council OR if you have completed a Social Care Queue Application form, you can access www.homefinderuk.org which lets you apply for a property in other parts of the country. The properties offered can be anywhere- you have to register and log on every Thursday to choose properties you are interested in. This can be a really great way of moving away from London or of getting Social Housing much quicker than waiting on the Social Care Queue. Competition is fierce and there are rarely properties in London- properties are mainly in the North of England, Scotland or rural areas.
For those young people who don’t yet have status from the Home Office, Future First will continue to pay for your accommodation until you get a decision from the Home Office.
Even though Future First pay your rent while you have no status, you are still responsible for paying your service charges from your weekly allowances.
You need to make sure that you use your Pathway Plan to work out what you want to happen when you turn 18 and where you would like to live. You have exactly the same options as other young people in terms of:
- Staying Put
- Supported Accommodation
- Semi-independent Accommodation
- Private Renting
- Living with Friends or Family
- University Accommodation
The big difference though is that if you don’t have Leave to Remain in the UK yet, you cannot get Settled council or Housing Association Accommodation. It’s really hard but you cannot get that accommodation until you are given Leave to Remain in the UK.
For those young people who sadly do not get a positive decision from the Home Office, Future First will support you to have a Human Rights Assessment and depending on what that assessment says, your accommodation may continue to be funded by Future First or you may be referred to the National Asylum Support Service (NASS).
In Wandsworth, we have several Supported Accommodation options for young parents.
Centrepoint and Ekaya run two properties for us in which single, female parents can live in shared flats with other young parents while they build the skills they need to manage Settled Accommodation.
If you identify as a single male parent, we will offer to provide you with an equivalent option but we need you to make sure that your Pathway Plan tells us what you need.
What are your options?
- If you live in Parent and Child Supported Accommodation, you have got to stay there for 4 nights a week and partners are not able to stay overnight
- Settled 2 bedroomed accommodation from Wandsworth Council has a very long waiting list. These properties are popular and there are not enough of them
- Private renting may be an option that Parents have to consider if they wish to live with their partner OR if they need accommodation quickly. Again, your Pathway Plan is the best place to start to plan for this and please look at the Private Rented section for some advice.
- Parents at University can access family accommodation from some Universities and this needs to be part of the planning that is done if you are going to Uni.
In life, we know that things don’t always go to plan. Leaving Care is really challenging and stressful time and we know that sometimes, people make mistakes and they need help to get back on track
The three things that lead to problems in accommodation are:
- Not Paying your rent and service charges
- Not abiding by the rules or expectations of your tenancy agreement (called ‘breaching your tenancy’)
- Behaving in a way that causes concern or upset for your neighbours or staff, or behaving in a way which is illegal
Everyone makes mistakes- that’s absolutely fine and we are here to support you with those. What’s more important is making sure that you show you’re serious about changing your behaviour when you’ve made those mistakes.
Your personal advisor is there to help you to put it right when things go wrong! So are your keyworkers or support staff and so are the other people in your life.
If however, you aren’t able to do the things you need to to fix it, you may end up being asked to leave (often referred to as being evicted). If this happens and there are no other options, the final option may be to tell your Local Housing Department that you are Homeless
There are lots of laws about how council’s should support Homeless Care Leavers and here in Wandsworth, the Homeless Persons Unit (HPU) is the place that we refer Homeless young people to when we cannot find any other options.
If the council assesses that you need accommodation because you are Homeless, they will offer you temporary accommodation in whatever location they can find some. Because it is really hard to find accommodation in London, a lot of the HPU accommodation is outside Wandsworth Borough and it can be as far as Essex, Kent or further North of London.
Your personal advisor will continue to support you no matter where your accommodation is but we will keep trying to get you back into Supported Accommodation where we can.
If you are in Temporary accommodation provided by HPU, you are automatically placed on a different waiting list for Settled Accommodation and people normally have to wait about 2 years in Temporary Accommodation before they get their Settled Accommodation.