Local councils have a legal duty to provide advice and practical assistance to anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days, even when there is no legal duty to provide housing.
Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, the council has a duty to give you all the help you need in order to secure a home irrespective of the circumstances leading to your homelessness.
This duty still applies in local authority areas where the housing stock has been transferred to a housing association.
As a homeless person, you still have the right to claim benefits and the right to vote.
Certain people are considered to be particularly vulnerable if they become homeless. These are said to be in ‘priority need’ and include pregnant women, older people and people with disabilities or mental health issues.
If you fall into one of these groups, and you are legally homeless and eligible for support, the council will usually provide you with emergency accommodation.
The council may offer you accommodation even if you are not in priority need but it has no legal obligation to do so. If you do not fall into one of the priority need categories but still consider yourself vulnerable, tell the council.
If you leave your accommodation when you don’t have to or do not return when you have the right to, it could affect any right to help from the council.
A duty of care
Local councils also have a duty of care to certain individuals who become homeless, including:
- some young people under 18
- care leavers up to 21 (or 24 if in full-time education)
- people with disabilities
- people with mental health problems
- older people
All councils have a 24-hour telephone service for people in emergency situations, e.g. if you suddenly find yourself homeless as a result of a fire, flood or domestic abuse.
There are night shelters in bigger towns and cities like Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. Some only operate during the winter months.