We recently assisted a client to access the housing list after 18 months of being homeless. Our client had been on the Freephone number for 18 months. The “Freephone” is a service operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive for people who are homeless. Through this service, the person may be booked into a hostel bed for the night. Our client had only ever secured a bed about one in every ten days due to the shortage of hostel beds. Because he was not on the housing list he had not been able to get an ongoing booking through the Council for a bed for the night.
Our client had been living abroad for a long period, having left his home town outside of Dublin in 1981. When he returned to Dublin in 2014, the Dublin local authority told him that he was not eligible to go on the housing list as he had no local connection to the area. The authority told him that he should instead return to his home town. He had not lived there since 1981.
MLRC representation to the Council – Council must first assess if applicant is normally resident in the area
MLRC, in representing our client, submitted to the local authority that it must, in accordance with law, first assess whether or not the applicant is normally resident in the functional area of the local authority. It is only after that test has not been satisfied that they can then apply the local connection test.
The relevant law
In this argument, we relied on s 22(6) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. That section states what links to an area a person must establish to be eligible for the housing list:
(6) An allocation scheme may include conditions subject to which the preference of a household to reside in a particular area or areas may be taken into account in allocating a dwelling to such a household, including, but not necessarily limited to, conditions relating to—
(a) whether the household or any member of it currently resides, or at any time has resided, and for what period, in the area or areas concerned,
(b) the distance of the area or areas from the place of employment of any member of the household,
(c) whether any members of the household are attending any university, college, school or other educational establishment in the area or areas concerned, and (d) whether any relatives of any member of the household reside in the area or areas concerned.
Regulation 5 of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 provides:
- A household may apply for social housing support to one housing authority only (the “housing authority of application”), which authority shall be either:
- The housing authority for the functional area in which the household normally resides, or
- The housing authority for the functional area with which the household has a local connection, or
- The housing authority that agrees, at its discretion, to conduct a social housing assessment in respect of that household on receipt of an application from the household.
We noted to the local authority that client had been living in its functional area and accessing homeless services there for well over a year and that he was engaged in various services there including medical services. We argued that on that basis he was normally resident in the local authority’s area.
The local authority, in response to our submissions, accepted our client onto the housing list. The local authority based this acceptance on Regulation 5(c), noted above, i.e. its discretion. MLRC considers that it is clear that our client normally resided in the local authority’s area and was entitled to be on the housing list for that reason also.
Before this was finally resolved, our client was understandably becoming increasingly frustrated and desperate as the months of rough sleeping and uncertainty continued. While our client still faces the challenge of finding a permanent stable home, because he is now on the housing list he can at least have a bed on an ongoing basis. In this way, he no longer has each day the great uncertainty and instability of finding a bed for the night through the Freephone service.
All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified. Click here to read more.