Understanding the Homelessness Reduction Act, 2017

What the Homelessness Reduction Act Means

Like most laws, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 is complex. However here are the main ways in which it contributes to homelessness legislation.

Local housing authorities (which are the local council) must provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who have what is considered to be a priority need. They have a duty to provide information to everyone. They must give proper consideration to all applications for housing assistance and make inquiries to see if they have a duty to help. This was a change from the previous situation where local authorities only had to help those at risk of homelessness if they considered them to be a priority.

Housing authorities have a duty to carry out an assessment of the situation and work with the affected person to develop a Personalized Housing Plan or PHP. This should include reasonable steps to be taken by the authority and individually to prevent or relieve homelessness.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 amended the period from which a person can be considered to be at risk of homelessness from 28 days to 56 days. This meant that housing authorities must work with people to prevent homelessness at an earlier stage. This is known as the extended prevention duty.

This also means that local authorities must assist those who are already homeless to relieve their homelessness for a period of at least 56 days. This is known as the relief duty.

Housing authorities have a duty to take reasonable steps to help prevent any eligible person from becoming homeless by helping them to remain in their current home or helping them to find a new home before they become homeless.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduced a duty of referral on certain public authorities to (with the individual’s consent) refer service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to a housing authority. Local housing authorities must work effectively with these bodies. These public bodies can include prisons, hospitals, probation services and Jobcentre Plus for example.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 amended the law so that young people leaving care are considered as having a local connection to the local area where they were looked after.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021: The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 made some changes to homelessness legislation. This Act grants “priority need” to all eligible victims of domestic abuse who are homeless as a result of being a victim of domestic abuse. It also introduces a new definition of domestic abuse.

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