What to do if you

are homeless or about to become homeless

Worried about

someone who is homeless?

Why do people

become homeless?

What to do if you’re homeless or about to become homeless?

In England, your council must help if you’re legally homeless or will become homeless within the next 8 weeks.


You may be legally homeless if:

  • you’ve no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world
  • you cannot get into your home, for example your landlord has locked you out
  • it’s not reasonable to stay in your home, for example you’re at risk of violence or abuse
  • you’re forced to live apart from your family or people you normally live with because there’s no suitable accommodation for you
  • you’re living in very poor conditions such as overcrowding

What help you can get?

There are different types of support your council could offer you. For example, they may offer you advice, emergency housing (such as the Open Door Night Shelter) support to find longer-term housing or help so you can stay in your home.


The type of help you can get depends on:

  • your eligibility for assistance
  • if you’re in priority need
  • what caused you to become homeless

Advice and Support and Open Door

If you can, we’d encourage you to visit the Open Door Night shelter which is for people experiencing homelessness. You will find a dedicated support team run by Hightown Housing Association who can support and help you with your housing situation.


The night shelter can help you by providing:

  • Food, shelter and washing facilities
  • Housing advice
  • Skills and employment training
  • Social and support networks

Eligibility for assistance

If you live permanently in the UK, you will usually be eligible for assistance.


If you are from abroad, you may not be eligible because of your immigration status. For more information, check Shelter’s guide on housing rights.

Priority need

You may be in priority need if any of the following are true:

  • you or someone you live with is pregnant
  • ‘dependent children’ live with you (under 16s or under 19s if they’re studying full-time)
  • you’re 16 or 17
  • you’re under 21 and were in care between the ages of 16 and 18
  • you’re assessed by the council as vulnerable, for example as a result of old age, disability or domestic abuse
  • you’re homeless after a flood, fire or other disaster


You may also be entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help with your housing costs.


For further information you can also contact the Open Door Homelessness Service run by Hightown Housing Association for more information or refer yourself directly to the night shelter for help.


You can also contact St Albans and District Housing team:


Worried about someone who is homeless?

If you see a rough sleeper in St Albans or surrounding areas, you can report them to Streetlink , which processes information about rough sleepers and refers them to the outreach team at Open Door and other local agencies.


StreetLink, which launched in 2012, is a website, app and phone line that connects rough sleepers with local charities, councils and support groups.


If you’re using their app or website, StreetLink has an online form you can fill in to let them know when and where someone is sleeping rough.


You can download the app from Apple iTunes or Google Play store; call the 24 hour helpline on 0300 500 0914 or visit the website, here .

If you’re concerned about a rough sleeper, please contact:

If you think the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger or needs urgent care. Please call 999.


It is Hightown Housing Association and their outreach teams’ job to encourage individuals and support them to make the right choices for themselves.

Why do people become homeless?

There is no one reason for why someone ends up rough sleeping. Each individual situation is complex and can relate to both personal and environmental reasons.


Homeless Link says: “For some people, homelessness is not just a housing issue. It is something that is inextricably linked with complex and chaotic life experiences.”

The complex reasons why people sleep rough also demands similarly complex solutions. Most of the time there is no such thing as a quick fix. Providing a home does not always solve a person’s issues or long-term housing situation.


Instead, the solution involves a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s other needs and life skills. Also, what support is needed to successfully maintain accommodation. At Open Door each resident has a dedicated key worker, who works with each individual to assess their needs and hopefully help them to find suitable long-term accommodation.

Personal experiences

A high number of people who face homelessness have had traumatic life experiences in their past, which have continued to negatively impact on their lives in very harmful ways.


Many individuals have mental or physical health problems or have issues with drug or alcohol use. Sometimes people face a complex mix of these factors, on top of more difficult family backgrounds than most.

Why do I see rough sleepers on the streets?

Accessing support services can often be a struggle for those who rough sleep. A joint and integrated response from all services delivered in St Albans is essential for supporting people to make positive moves off the street.


The charity work in partnership with Hightown Housing Association, Centre 33, St Albans District Council, Emmaus, Druglink and other support services to help individuals make positive steps.


It can at times, be difficult to persuade some people to access accommodation. There are a range of reasons why people refuse and, ultimately, individuals with capacity may make choices that other people find hard to understand. At the same time, rough sleeping is a high-risk situation and people might find it harder to make decisions if they are exhausted, hungry, afraid, in pain, intoxicated etc.


So, there is a balance to be struck between respecting the choices and autonomy of the individual, and continuing to make offers of support and checking on that person’s welfare.


The outreach teams at Open Door homelessness service have at times experienced someone refusing a bed for years, until one day they are ready to access support. Change is always possible.

Getting Help

Are you homeless and sleeping rough
in St Albans?


The Drop-In Service at 8 Bricket Road, St Albans AL1 3JX, can provide advice about:

  • Getting a bed in the Open Door night shelter
  • Registering with the St Albans Council Housing Service
  • Eligibility for benefits


Counselling and health advice is also available

The Drop-In Service is open from 2.30 to 4.00pm (on weekdays only)

You can call us on 01727 859113

Useful information

Centre 33, 2A Spicer St (see link below)
01727 830901
Herts Young Homeless
08000 355775
Mental Health Helpline
01438 843322
116 123
St Albans Council
01727 819355
St Albans Police
Streetlink UK
0300 500 0914
Homeless Link

The Drop-in Service

This service is available on every weekday afternoon from 2.30pm to 4.00pm.
It provides support and advice on a range of issues, such as housing, benefits and employment. Counselling and health advice is also available, and lunch is provided.