Housing Options guidance

joint guidance from Scottish Government and COSLA setting out the principles on which any effective Housing Options service should be based and the outcomes it should achieve.

Annex 2 - Case Studies

1. 69 Year old, Owner Occupier

Owner Y contacted the Housing Options Team to explain she had sold her property and had a date to leave. She also advised she had applied to various housing associations without an offer of immediate rehousing. She was very emotional and advised her husband had recently passed away. She was evidently struggling and seemed confused. She had no support from family or elsewhere to help her.

Concerned that the elderly woman would not follow up on the advice provided, it was agreed if no contact had been made by the middle of the following week, a visit would be made to the property.

On approaching one of the housing associations Y had applied to, they confirmed that due to the change in her circumstances, they would be able to select the woman for an offer of housing.

Having signed up for the property, there was concern on the part of both the Housing Options team and the housing association about the applicant's ability to move house and deal with the physical and financial upheaval without any support. A Housing Support Co-ordinator agreed to allocate Y support with the move when a referral was received from the housing association which was subsequently coordinated by the Options Team.

A follow-up contact was made with the housing association approximately two months later. The applicant had successfully moved into the new tenancy, was appreciating attending a memory clinic and was being appropriately supported in her new tenancy.

2. Youth Homeless Prevention Mediation Outcome

Customer F is a 20 year old female who presented as homeless. The reason for presentation was a breakdown in the relationship with mum. It should be noted that F was also homeless two years previously and had been housed in supported accommodation before moving into her own furnished tenancy. This failed within a year and mum had taken her back into the family home. F and her mum confirmed that she would struggle to sustain any tenancy. F has some learning difficulties and struggles with the skills needed for living independently. Both parties agreed to mediation as a way to help repair the relationship and support F through the homelessness application process.

A mediator met with both parties individually and then set up joint mediation session. At the individual sessions, information was disclosed to the mediator about the extent of issues F was trying to deal with. Mum has been the only person she has opened up to about her problems. Mum allowed her daughter to return home prior to the joint mediation session on the understanding they both see the process through.

Joint mediation session undertaken, this was very successful and an agreement was made between mum and daughter on the practical issues that were causing friction within the household. F was allowed to have her boyfriend stay at weekends and would be treated more like an adult in the house. F in return will treat the family with more respect, let mum know where she is and when she is returning. F will take more responsibility around the house and help mum with chores. It was also agreed the daughter should find something to occupy her day instead of being about the house. Further sessions arranged were less formal and were held at the family home. The Options Team continued to work with the family and both F and mum continued to be very open and honest. The relationship continued to improve with mum being less stressed in the house although in a small three bedroom flat, it continued to be difficult with three people of adult age, including F's brother, to get personal space and privacy. Mum applied for a larger property but due to the rehousing policy, only received low priority and could be waiting a long time for any move.

The outcomes of the case were that:

  • F was referred into the youth employability service to help with barriers into employment and to fill her day, supported with literacy issues and is currently on training and hoping to get a placement in near future;
  • as mum is now supportive of her daughter and fully intends to have her remain in the family home, the Options Team drafted a letter of support to request higher priority for housing for the household;
  • following successful priority award, the Options Team contacted allocations and secured a four bedroom new build tenancy for the family, a front/back door town house which will allow F to have a quiet area;
  • a referral was made to the money advice team who assisted in successfully applying for a Community Care Grant, to pay for new carpets, cooker and suite for moving in. They also looked at maximising the family income;
  • the family is now resettled and sustaining the tenancy together as family. F is continuing to engage with services provided and mum has seen a vast improvement in F's confidence and mood. F is hoping to get full-time employment and have a career working with older adults;
  • F now helps with domestic chores round house. Her social skills have improved. F now feels she is being treated as an adult and feels respected.

3. Youth Threatened with Eviction

C was threatened with eviction from her housing association flat due to substantial arrears. She had failed to engage with the housing association despite their best efforts to contact her.

Upon contacting the Housing Options Team, it became apparent that C had a history of severe mental health disorders and that she had not been managing prescribed medications appropriately. Consequently, she had not been applying for housing benefit; she had fallen behind in her studies through non-attendance at college, although she was managing to maintain a small part-time job. C was in receipt of no support, as the family relationship had previously broken down. She had become increasingly isolated.

Through the provision of appropriate housing support, C was able to re-engage with medical services and bring her mental health into better management including the use of alternative treatments. Housing benefit issues were resolved such that a substantial proportion of the outstanding debt was able to be repaid. A referral was also made to a befriending service in order to address issues of isolation.

As the housing association landlord was proceeding with eviction albeit that this was delayed for five months, this time allowed the Housing Options team time to work with C to find an appropriate private sector let. Mediation had supported a reengagement with C's mother, such that she was prepared to contribute towards rental payments, and a Discretionary Housing Payment was secured to fund the deposit. Moving costs were met through a Community Care Grant.

A referral to the employability service also means that the customer is now engaged in a hospitality course which is closely matched with her career ambitions. She is maintaining excellent attendance on her new college course.


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