When you are homeless

Being homeless can mean more than living on the streets. You can be homeless even if you have a roof over your head. For example:

  • you are living with friends or family and they need you to leave
  • you are living in very short term accommodation such as a hostel, night shelter or B&B
  • when there is a risk of violence in your home
  • squatting (because you have no legal right to stay)
  • you are living in very poor conditions that are affecting your health
  • you are living apart from your family because you are all not allowed to live together.

Contact our Homeless assessment team

If you find yourself homeless today and your enquiry is urgent, you can speak with a housing advice officer on: 0208 424 1093 (lines open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

For emergencies outside these hours including weekends, calls will be diverted to the Emergency Social Services.

Complete a homeless enquiry form

Housing options if you are homeless

The earlier you can let us know about your housing problem, the more we can do. We cannot offer council housing to most people. So you may have to consider another option on our looking for a new home page.

Emergency accommodation

Emergency accommodation is scarce. It can only be offered to those who do not have a roof over their head and have a priority need.

You will need to pay for the accommodation. But, you may be entitled to housing benefit. Being put in emergency housing is not a shortcut. It won't be your permanent home. Note that emergency housing might not always be in Harrow.

If we offer you emergency housing we will do this while we assess your application. We will provide you with support if you have identified support needs.

The emergency accommodation we offer includes:

  • hostels
  • bed and breakfast hotels

If we offer you temporary housing it will be after the investigations are done. This is if we decide that we have a duty to re-house you and your household.

If you are in temporary housing, this does not mean you will be offered a council or housing association tenancy soon. The wait for this type of housing is likely to take many years.

The temporary accommodation we offer includes:

  • private rented properties leased from landlords
  • voluntary sector housing
  • properties leased from a housing association.

See the temporary accommodation allocation policy. Also see our guide to emergency accommodation.

Rough sleepers

Harrow has fewer rough sleepers than other areas in London. But, we have developed services to help them. We carry out regular checks on rough sleepers. They help us find and support people sleeping on our streets.

If you are at risk of becoming a rough sleeper please contact our Housing advice team. You can call them on: 020 8424 1093 or email them on: housing.advice@harrow.gov.uk.

Refer a rough sleeper

Some rough sleepers do not feel able to accept offered housing. You can tell us about a rough sleeper in few ways. The best method depends on the time of day you are reporting:

During the day (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

  • Call our Homelessness prevention team on: 020 8424 1093.

At night (5pm to 9am), weekends and bank holidays

  • Visit the StreetLink website. Or you can call them on: 0300 500 0914 (Open 24 hours, 7 days a week)

At any time you can complete our online reporting form. The form will be sent to our outreach team. They will aim to make contact with the individual within 24 hours.

Rough sleeper outreach form

If it is safe to do so, you can ask the person to contact our Housing advice team on: 020 8424 1093. Or you can email them on: housing.advice@harrow.gov.uk.

In an emergency

In an emergency call 999, if the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care. Please tell us where the person is and what they look like. Also, say what time you saw them. 

Freezing weather conditions

In freezing weather, we apply our severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP). This protocol is our temporary response to the risks from bad weather. SWEP usually involves finding shelter. It can also involve arranging short-term accommodation.

Donating to rough sleepers or charities

Sometimes it is hard to tell if someone is a rough sleeper. Or if they are a street beggar who is not homeless. We recommend donating to local organisations. They support rough sleepers in Harrow.

Working in partnership

We aim to support rough sleepers in Harrow with the appropriate care. We carry out this work with partners including: 

  • homelessness charities
  • specialist substance misuse
  • mental health organisations
  • voluntary and community groups.

We also work with local services and charities. Along with our partners, we aim to build relationships. We want to understand each person's situation. Then, we will find a way to help them.


FirmFoundation is a local charity. It is based in Harrow and works with homeless people. They offer weekly ‘food and shower’ drop-in sessions. These are held on Monday at 2-4pm and Friday at 2-4pm.

You can find them during these times at Harrow Baptist Church.

You can visit the FirmFoundation website. Contact them by phone on: 020 8426 5515. Email them on: js@firmfoundation.org.uk.

Harrow street pastors

Harrow street pastors are part of a national team. The team is made of trained volunteers from local churches. They care about the community listen and help people who are out on the streets. 

They are usually on patrol from 10pm to 4am on a Friday or Saturday.

You can visit the Harrow street pastors website. Email them on: harrow@streetpastors.org.uk.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a global registered charity. They fight social inequality. They aim to change lives.

You can visit the Salvation Army website. Contact them by phone on: 020 8864 5142. Email them on: harrow@salvationarmy.org.uk.

See our guide on what to do if you're homeless and have nowhere to stay