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We work in partnership with a range of other organisations to provide housing support to members of the armed forces community. In our policy we have recognised and responded to barriers that some members of the armed forces community can face with housing.  Where we do not deliver services directly, we have worked with our providers to ensure that the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant are upheld.

Our Housing Commitment to members of the Armed Forces community

Our local offer is underpinned by statutory guidance on allocating social housing for the armed forces. This guidance brings together, updates, and builds on existing advice:

Help with housing before you leave the services

If you are leaving the armed forces, you have the right to help with finding somewhere to live.

You can get help through the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO). They can provide information and advice for you and your dependants, especially if you are about to return to civilian life. If you are a veteran currently living in armed forces housing, they can help you move out and find a civilian home.

We work closely with the JSHAO within HMNB Portsmouth to identify and proactively support those living in service accommodation to transition into civilian accommodation as required.

There is huge demand for affordable homes in Portsmouth and demand for council housing is higher than supply. If you need to move out of service accommodation and need support to find somewhere else to live, it is best to contact the JSHAO in the first instance on who will be able to advise you before approaching the council.

You can contact the JSHAO by email or phone:

AWS-JSHAO-Mailbox@mod.uk

Telephone: Civilian 01252 787 574; Military 94222 7574

What is an Armed Forces Connection

Our housing department will accept housing applications from you if you are serving and preparing to leave the armed forces, have previously served, or from members of your families following the definitions provided by the Armed Forces Covenant.

If you wish to make an application for housing and are a member of the Armed Forces community as defined by the Armed Forces Covenant, then please let us know and we will ensure your Armed Forces connection is reflected within the application process.

Qualifying to apply for Council Housing in Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Allocation Scheme – Affordable Homes for local People sets out our aim to provide affordable housing for rent for local residents in housing need. The guiding principle is to make sure that homes are allocated fairly and efficiently; considering applicants’ individual needs and expressed preferences.

Anyone wishing to join the allocation scheme must be eligible for social housing and meet the qualification criteria. This criterion includes having a local connection. There is exemption to the local connection criteria for members of the armed forces community in specific circumstances:

  1. Be a member of the Armed Forces or former Service personnel within 5 years of discharge, OR.
  2. Be a bereaved spouse or civil partner of a member of the Armed Forces leaving Services family accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner, OR.
  3. Be a serving or former member of the Reserve Forces needing to move because of a serious injury or disability sustained as a result of their service
  4. Divorced or separated spouses/civil partners/partners who have been cohabiting with a Service personnel, who need to move out of accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence

We recognise that are also some exceptional circumstances that can arise as a result of service that fall outside of the stated exemption criteria. Examples of this include where a veteran who has left service over five years ago needs to move into the city to access specialist treatment and/or family support due to injury or health conditions as a result of their service. Or where a service deployment means that an adult child may no longer be able to remain in the family home. In these instances, the application may be considered to be a household in exceptional circumstances agreed by the council’s Priority Rehousing Panel.

Armed Forces Connection and allocation priority

Our allocation scheme governs how we allocate properties owned by the council but also by registered providers. The priority in which council housing is allocated, is needs based. Anything you can tell us about how being a member of the armed forces community has influenced your need for housing is helpful within this process

Being a member of the armed forces community does not in itself guarantee a housing application will be successful but letting us know that you have an armed forces connection will help us to understand your situation better and ensure we apply additional priority within the banding scheme process where appropriate.

Applications from members of the Armed Forces community where there is additional need.

If you have significant tenancy-related support needs and need extra help to manage a tenancy, you might initially be considered for a supported housing service rather than being able to join the waiting list for social housing. Where a member of the armed forces community applies for housing and their housing need is assessed as being most appropriately met via a supported housing pathway, supported housing providers will work with local charities such as veterans outreach support (VOS) and other relevant groups, including the Veterans Liaison and Diversion service, to ensure that, where relevant, those dedicated support offers are included within housing support plans.

When a member of the armed forces who has been housed in supported accommodation is assessed to be ready to move on into a general need’s tenancy via the Portsmouth Housing Register, additional priority within the banding scheme will continue to apply.

Financial assessment of housing need

We consider an applicant’s financial resources when considering whether they are able to join the waiting list, and this includes whether there are any savings that would enable them to resolve their housing need. The Allocations Policy sets out that each case will be considered on an individual basis. We will disregard any lump sum received by a member of the armed forces as compensation for an injury or disability sustained on active service.

Communication with Service Families

We understand that service mobility may be difficult for some members of the armed forces community to make an application within working hours and/or in person. If you are unable to contact us within working hours, then you can complete our online contact form at any time to let us know you want to make a housing application. We will then work with you to tailor our approach as required to enable you to access our service; this may include use of email, virtual meetings, enabling nominated persons to support with you with viewings and/or virtual property viewings.

 

Tenancy Strategy for members of the Armed Forces Community

Our tenancy strategy sets out the kind of tenancies that we and our registered providers grant, any specific arrangements such as length of tenancy and circumstances where different types of tenancy apply.

The tenancy strategy is designed to meet a range of needs. Registered providers offer some flexible tenancies which will be for a minimum of five years.  Where registered providers offer flexible tenancies, their tenancy policies should recognise the benefit of a period of stability for those with young families, children in education and those from the armed forces community who may already have needed to move numerous times.

All the tenancies offered by the council as a social landlord, including those to members of the armed forces community, are secure lifetime tenancies.

Veteran Specific Housing

There are several providers of veteran specific housing within the local area We work with these organisations when considering how best to meet the housing need identified. Details of this and other veteran specific housing support is listed below:

  • Agamemnon Housing Association – Provides warden assisted independent living for people over 60 years of age, giving priority to those who have served in the Armed Forces and their surviving partners or relatives. Within the Solent Agamemnon have 5 accommodation sites (2 in Gosport, 3 in Portsmouth).
  • Alabaré – Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans provide temporary accommodation to British Armed Forces Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Alabaré have 3 properties, in Gosport providing supported accommodation (a higher level of support) and move-on accommodation where veterans live more independently while learning the skills needed to maintain their own home.
  • CESSA Housing Association – Provides sheltered housing to veterans their spouses, partners, widows/widowers, parents and children who are aged 60 or over. This includes veterans who served in the Reserve Forces. Within the Solent CESSA Housing Association have four accommodation sites (1 in Gosport, 3 in Portsmouth). The accommodation provided is a mixture of accessible, one and two person flats.
  • Greenwich Hospital (managed by CESSA) – The Greenwich Hospital, is a Crown Royal Navy Charity. It provides sheltered accommodation with an on-site scheme manager and out-of-hours service exclusively for those who have served in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Woman’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARRNS) or Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), their spouses, partners, widows or widowers who are aged 60 or over. Greenwich Hospital have one accommodation site in Portsmouth, with a mixture of accessible, one and two person flats.
  • Haig Housing Trust – Haig Housing is a charitable housing trust and the leading provider of rental housing for ex-Service people in the United Kingdom. The Trust has over 1,500 properties nationally. The Trust manages 77 properties in the Portsmouth area. Applicants are assessed on a standard points-based system which takes into account individual circumstances, level of need and availability. Successful applicants will be charged a charitable rent, roughly comparable to that charged by the local authority. Haig also offers special housing solutions for severely wounded and disabled Service and ex-Service personnel, usually on a shared rental/ownership basis.
  • The Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services (SPACES). – SPACES helps single ex service personnel who have left the forces within the last six months find housing throughout the United Kingdom which can be temporary or permanent. If you have been out of the Armed Forces for more than six months, they can provide you with information and advice on housing.
  • The Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) maintains a directory of known housing and support services available to the ex-Services community (including those already mentioned) which is kept updated.

Home adaptions

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) are for adaptations to a disabled person’s home, enabling them to live comfortably and independently. The Council has a duty to provide home adaptations for people of all ages and tenures subject to a needs assessment and eligibility criteria. This can include Armed Forces personnel or their families living in their own accommodation, and veterans. The Council operates a discretionary policy not to means test applications. This means any lump sum received by a member of the Armed Forces as compensation for an injury or disability sustained on active service, would be disregarded within the application process.

The Councils dedicated Disabled Facilities Grant webpage provides more information about the support available and eligibility criterion.

Members of the Armed Forces community may also be entitled to further advice or financial support from charities such as the Royal British Legion or SSAFA to help with home adaptions.

Other sources of support:

  • BLESMA  The Limbless Veterans is dedicated to assisting serving and ex-Service men and women who have suffered life-changing limb loss or the use of a limb, an eye or loss of sight.
  • Blind Veterans UK  provide vision-impaired Armed Forces and National Service veterans with the person-centred services and tailored support they need to discover life beyond sight loss.
  • Help for Heroes Band of Brothers and Sisters network offers lifelong access to all the financial and welfare support from Help for Heroes as well as providing opportunities to meet others who are living through similar experiences. The network also supports family members of Veterans and Service Personnel who have suffered a permanently life-limiting or career-ending injury or illness during or attributable to service.

Armed Forces and Homelessness strategy

Events that could lead to homelessness, such as a relationship breakdown or a tenancy coming to an end, are everyday life experiences that anyone could face. However, not everyone has the necessary resources or social support. We have recognised the Armed Forces Covenant and needs of the armed forces community within our homelessness strategy.  In respect of the issue of homelessness, while there has been a reduction in the number of street homeless ex-service personnel, the strategy recognises that some veterans struggle to secure suitable, affordable housing after service.

The strategy sets out strategic aims to:

  • Prevent homelessness by exploring initiatives that can provide responsive joined up arrangements where people are leaving environments such as the armed forces.
  • Reduce rough sleeping by working together as a city to take an ‘Accommodation First Not Accommodation Only’ approach to support and safeguard anyone sleeping or at risk of sleeping on the streets of Portsmouth.
  • Relieve homelessness by developing meaningful personalised housing plans with people that work flexibly and creatively with individual circumstances to relieve homelessness.
  • Sustain tenancies by developing collaborative and multi-agency working relationships that help people build resilience.
  • Direct the strategy by responding to changing needs and issues by reviewing the priorities of the strategy as required.

Risk of Homelessness (serving persons and family members)

If you think you’ll be homeless on leaving the armed forces, contact The Housing Needs Advice and Support team who offer advice and support if you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless. If you can provide a letter of discharge or other evidence which confirms the date of your discharge, we will accept your date of discharge as the date you become homeless. You may need to stay in your accommodation and wait for Defence Estates to evict you. This will provide more time for us to support you to find somewhere else to live.

Homelessness – if you are a former member of the armed forces

You don’t need to be sleeping rough or not have a roof over your head to be considered homeless. We’ll consider you to be homeless under a range of different circumstances and may have a legal duty to help with your housing.

When considering whether you’re vulnerable and in priority need, you can support your case by showing your service with the armed forces has contributed to your vulnerability.

We’ll consider:

  • how long you served with the armed forces and your role
  • if you spent time in a military hospital
  • if you were discharged from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form)
  • if you have obtained and maintained accommodation since leaving the forces
  • the length of time you have left the service

Our dedicated webpage gives specific advice for former members of the armed forces who are homeless, or worried about becoming homeless.

Several organisations also offer housing advice and support for veterans and their family members:

The Shelter website has a range of information on housing for armed forces veterans, with links to a number of supporting organisations, including the Royal British Legion, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and Veterans Aid.