Homeless ex-armed forces advice
Last Updated: 6 September 2023
If you're leaving the armed services, or you are a former member, you may be entitled to extra help if you become homeless.
- get help with housing or apply as homeless before you’re discharged
- get an active application for social housing by filling out a Cumbria Choice online application form
Homelessness rights for ex-forces
If you are a former member of the armed forces and are homeless or threatened with homelessness, or in the process of leaving the armed forces then contact our Housing Options team as soon as you are able on 01539 793 199.
The Housing Options team will assess if you are eligible for housing assistance and have not made yourself intentionally homeless.
Subject to you satisfying the above criteria we may have to help you with both emergency and longer-term accommodation if it is accepted that you are homeless and in priority need with regard to needing accommodation.
We must consider if it can help you using both general rules that apply to everyone and special rules that apply to people who were in the forces.
When deciding this the Housing Options Team may consider:
- how long you were in the forces and what role you had
- if you spent any time in military hospital
- if you were released from service on medical grounds (and have a medical history release form)
- if you have had accommodation since leaving service and if you have been able to obtain or maintain accommodation since you left
- how long it has been since you left service
To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the MOD. You may need to seek independent legal advice or help from a specialist agency to make representations on your behalf if we decide that you do not meet the criteria set out above, and therefore we do not owe a duty to you to provide you with accommodation.
Re-housing in the area of your base
To be accepted as homeless in the local council area where you were based, you must be able to show that you have a local connection with the local council where your base was situated.
You may be able to show a local connection with that area if you:
- currently work in the area
- have lived in the area for six out of the last twelve months or three out of the last five years
- live with a partner who currently works in the area
If you have left the forces and are not yet working for another employer in the area, you won't be able to show a local connection through working in the area. However, you may still be able to show that you have a local connection as the time you spent living or working in the area may still count.
You will not establish a local connection with an area by virtue of serving, or having served, there while in the forces.
You should also consider if you are able to show a local connection with this or another local council area where you have close family connections.
You don't need to have a local connection to apply to go on Cumbria Choice housing register.
Applying as homeless before discharging from the forces
Upon the production of a letter of discharge or some other evidence that confirms the date of your discharge from the Forces, Housing Options should accept that from the date of discharge you will become homeless. In the event that you have not sought any housing assistance from us prior to your discharge from the Forces you may need to stay in your accommodation as long as possible and wait for Defence Estates to evict you. Defence Estates have to give you a Notice to Vacate before they can take you to court in order that they can obtain a possession order. You can use any Notice to Vacate and any possession order that is obtained against you as evidence in support of your homelessness application.
Ex-forces and single, homeless and on the streets
Many single homeless people don't qualify for help from any local authority. There is a range of services for people who find themselves homeless:
- Home Group Ex Services/Veteran Accommodation in Cumbria: can arrange short-term accommodation and support with the transition to civilian life.
- SPACES: can help you find permanent/temporary accommodation, or they can refer you to the Beacon in Catterick, North Yorkshire.
- Royal British Legion: provide support for both serving and ex-serving personnel.
- Combat Stress: effective clinical treatment and support to veterans of the British Armed Forces as well as to currently serving and ex members of the Army Reserve (TA) and Reserve Forces who are suffering mental ill health. The support desk for the North West can be contacted on 01292 561 355.
- First Step: provides a range or psychological interventions which are delivered by qualified practitioners, including one to one treatments. You can contact them on 0300 123 9122 or by your GP.
- SSAFA: housing advice for people currently serving in the forces and ex services personnel and their families.
- Homeless England directory: details of day centres and hostels across the UK.
Housing support and advice by Veterans' Housing Advice
Veterans Housing Advice (VHA) is a new service which provides clear pathways for ex-Service personnel in housing need throughout the United Kingdom to move into permanent homes. It is provided in partnership with The Royal British Legion, Shelter and Connect Assist, its main aim is to make accessing the services of charities easier through a telephone helpline open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.
The direct number to an advisor is 0808 801 0880, that can also be accessed via the Veterans’ Gateway on 0808 802 1212 that is available 24/7.
Services provided by members of the CHC include:
- supported accommodation: providing temporary accommodation for veterans with support
- long term housing: providing settled accommodation for veterans, with or without support
- general needs: unsupported housing for members of the ex-service community unable to buy or rent on the open market. Tenants will usually be self-sufficient, but may need to avail themselves of some of the floating support listed. Some adapted properties may be available or adaptations arranged as necessary
- Floating support: services delivered by visiting workers to people in their own homes to help people maintain their settled accommodation
- Outreach services: covering work with rough sleepers or people in temporary accommodation to help them access more settled accommodation and any support needs.
- Day Centres: the provision of activities and support to homeless and vulnerably housed people. (Also called by some providers 'drop-in' facilities)
Homeless after dishonourable discharge
If you have been dishonourably discharged from the Armed Forces you may not be placed into temporary accommodation and you may be found to be intentionally homeless from your last accommodation.
Joining the Housing Register
The following categories of applicants will be afforded a priority status for accommodation on Cumbria Choice if they have left the Armed Forces within the last 5 years:
- those discharged from the Armed Forces as a result of sustaining a serious injury, illness, medical condition or disability during service which is attributable (wholly or partly) to the person’s service
- those former serving members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service
- those applicants who are in housing need and have been discharged from the Armed Forces
- those bereaved spouses or civil partners of those serving in the regular forces where the bereaved spouse or civil partner has recently ceased to reside, or will cease to be entitled, to reside in Ministry of Defence accommodation
- those applying following the death of their service spouse or civil partner, where the death was wholly or partly attributable to their service