There are bad homeless decisions by local authorities. We’ve all seen them. Findings of intentional homelessness for being evicted for complaining about a broken shower, or being evicted for getting pregnant in an HMO that didn’t allow children. Decisions that stated that being sexually assaulted was just one of those things that happened to homeless people. And etc. and etc.
But, courtesy of an article in DevonLive about a 2017 decision regarding a 20 year old man with severe mental health issues comes the following decision letter by Torbay Council, which is in both fact and law, probably the worst I have seen. It dates from 2017. The individual concerned subsequently went through a period of rough sleeping but appears to have found some assistance in Exeter.
The bit you need to know before reading the decision letter is that the man was in hospital in a medically induced coma and under section following a suicide attempt at the time he was ‘not occupying’ the temporary accommodation, and that his mental health issues were known to the homeless unit. So, decision the letter (as images).
‘You are intentionally homeless because you didn’t follow mental health services guidance and instead attempted suicide, which meant you were away from the temporary accommodation in breach of licence. So we are discharging our housing duty.’
I’m not even going to start on the ways this is unlawful. You can add them up in the comments. It is, of course, very, very wrong. But I am aghast that this apparently not only got written but presumably approved by a manager. If this had got into the hands of a housing lawyer, Torbay would have been toast.
Of course, in 2017 there was only one legal aid housing provider covering, well, all of Devon. If you want an illustration of what legal aid deserts mean, here it is. Unchallenged appalling decision-making affecting the most vulnerable people.
Since the latest Legal Aid Agency civil contract round, there is still only one legal aid housing provider in Devon.