Sunday, 01 March 2015

Local authorities block offenders’ access to housing

Ex-offenders face significant barriers from local authorities when they are trying to secure accommodation, according to research.

A report published by the Third Sector Research Centre today says councils often pose a barrier to prisoner resettlement, despite the intention of local homelessness strategies.

Local councils can judge ex-offenders ineligible for housing if they are categorised as intentionally homeless for failing to inform their landlord of a sentence or for committing an offence. They can be treated as ineligible due to unacceptable behaviour, or may simply not be judged as priority need.

Housing services in prisons often lack connections with other local authorities and housing providers, the report says. While offenders can be moved to prison anywhere in the country, they are only eligible for housing in their home area.

The report also says cuts to the criminal justice system may reduce housing support in prisons.

Rosie Meek, spokesperson for TSRC, said: ‘There is an urgent need for a more transparent housing assessment system, and greater partnership working between local authorities, housing providers and third sector organisations.

‘One possible solution may be to create an umbrella liaison body that would manage and address homelessness across local authority borders.’

Readers' comments (35)

  • Tony Cook

    With four out of every five homeless ex-offenders re-convicted within a year this is yet another example of the false economies of failing to redress the woefully inadequate supply of social housing. Indeed it may well be that the shortage of housing is a contributing factor in the rise of custodial sentences in the first place.

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  • Chris

    Society needs to decide if a convicted criminal's punishment ends at the end of his prison terms or if they should be treated as exiles and denied food, water and shelter on pain of death.

    If we wish to create recidovism the continuing to punish those who've done their time is the quickest route to achieving this.

    Of course, there will be those who argue 'scarce resource', which is true. But instead of using this to cut off one's own nose it is better to understand this is just another reason to remove the undersupply of social housing so that the scarce resource issue is no longer a block to resolving solveable social issues.

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  • Joe Halewood

    And another example of Localism meaning parochial bigoted views allowed to hold sway

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  • Most of them will not be in priorty need. Being a criminal or being released from prison does not make you vulnerable unless you're institutionalised (many many years in prison). Some may have priority need status due to medical conditions, however, these people could still be intentionally homeless say if they went to prison for beating their partner up or for committing serious ASB etc. Fair enough wouldn't you say?

    Also Council's have the power to exclude criminals from the Housing Register where their past behaviour suggests that they may pose a risk to other tenants. Fair enough wouldn't you say? LAs have to have the bigger picture in mind and not just a 'clientcentric' approach like social worker, GPs, solicitors and probation officers etc.

    If you do the crime do the time and pay the fine...

    Reep what you sow!!!

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  • F Magneto could well be the one who does the reaping: if you don't help ex-offenders into accommodation, they are far more likley to re-offend than if you do. So how would FM feel if a homless ex-offender denied access to housing by his LA, burgles his house and beats him up when he tries to intervene?

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  • Chris

    F Magneto - do the crime do the time - but you are advocating continued punishment after they have done the time; why?

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  • Society is clearly prepared be bear any peverse consequences resulting from the Homeless Acts and Housing Acts in terms of ex offenders e.g. intentionally homeless and exclusions from the housing register. Good effort!!!

    Why should offenders be given houses over non offenders who are also homeless? Why should the threat of committing more crimes jump ex ofenders up the que over other homeless people who are not ex offenders?

    Risk analysis shouldn't come in to it. These people should not be treat favourably over non criminals in the same boat regardless of the risks.

    We should not incentivise people who commit crimes. It sends out the wrong message...

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  • Sorry but people who are released from prison are still on probation, parole or license so yes they are still being punished upon release and it's up to them to make a mends...

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  • Rick Campbell

    Perhaps I'm wrong but is it not the case that released prisoners have to have somewhere to live as a condition of their parole?

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  • Tony Cook

    F Magneto quite rightly asks: "Why should offenders be given houses over non offenders who are also homeless?"

    Of course they shouldn't, to treat one group preferentially over another perhaps more 'deserving' group is clearly unfair. The point being that supply fails to meet demand and we're left squabbling over a 'scarce resource', with the long term, add-on costs to society far outweighing the basic costs of redressing this systemic and intentional shortage.

    Clearly adequate housing won't resolve the problem of sociopathic behaviour but then again most offenders aren't criminal by intent, they are simply responding to the pressures of life in an inappropriate manner. It's the latter who re-offend, get caught, become institutionalised and their failure to cope as citizens entrenched to the detriment of all.

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