Repost from 13-05-2015, unedited.
Checklist of things to do if you’re made homeless:
1. Declare yourself homeless (here’s how to do this in the UK, I don’t know if other countries have the same provision, let me know in the comments). Do this as quickly as possible.
2. Do you have any friends or relatives who you could stay with for a day or two? Ask everyone you can think of, even casual acquaintances can help you out here. If you explain the situation, you might be surprised at who will help (and if no-one helps, at least you know you can’t count on your friends).
3. Get yourself a notebook and pen if you don’t already have them and keep track of things such as the date you declared homelessness, who you spoke to, when you applied for Jobseekers, etc. If you get granted Jobseekers, write down details of jobs you have applied for in here as well. Under stress, it’s easy to forget the little things.
4. (UK only) Apply for an emergency crisis loan from the Jobcentre if you have no money. You will need an address for the cheque to be sent to, so think about where you could use. The local homeless shelter may permit you to use their address. Don’t use your old address. The amount of money they will give you is insultingly low (I requested money for a flat deposit, food for two weeks, transport for getting to work and clothes as I only had what I was standing in, had just started my first ever job and hadn’t got paid yet, and they gave me £28 which they sent to my old address and they made me repay it anyway despite the fact I didn’t have it).
5. Apply for benefits/welfare if you have no income. Even if you’re not really capable of work, it’s worth at least applying for Jobseeker’s (UK) because it will give you entitlement to extra help throughout this difficult time.
6. Get to your local library, sign up for a library card (use proof of your old address if you have some – driving licence is usually fine), because you can use the internet for free at the library, and trawl Gumtree for cash in hand jobs. They tend to have some jobs that are immediate start no questions asked as long as you can knock together a half-decent CV to send. You can work up to 16 hours a week and still receive Jobseeker’s. After that, you need to make it on your own. But that’s okay, Jobseeker’s is there to tide you over in an emergency, not to cover car payments.
7. If you need to, you can charge your phone at McDonald’s, some Starbucks, all phone shops (Carphone warehouse etc), or anywhere else where you see a plug socket. If it’s a food place, remember to order something so you’re legitimately there. If you’re on phone credit, get anyone you phone to call you back as much as possible to minimalize the cost to you.
8. Go to your bank or phone them to ask them to stop sending your statements. You don’t want the person in your old house knowing where you are and what you’re doing, and your bank statements will tell them just that.
9. Cancel any direct debits relating to your old house, such as electricity, internet, council tax. There is NO reason for you to pay for the people living there if you’re not there too, even if they’ve got your kids (if you left your kids behind, that’s not a priority right now, if they’re in danger, get social services to deal with it because you will not get any kind of visitation or custody without somewhere to live, you absolutely need to sort yourself out first and it’s not selfish, it’s just a much better strategy to get the kids back). Inform these companies that you no longer live there if they will let you, some places are really shitty if you can’t provide a new address. Don’t waste your phone credit on them, just make a note and write them a letter at some point in the future when you’ve got yourself sorted out with somewhere to stay.
10. Don’t be tempted to spend all your money on things you think you need right now. And don’t worry too much about nutrition if it’s only for a few weeks. Longer term needs longer term thinking but this is short term right now. Get yourself some cheap food that needs no cooking from a supermarket (eg. bread, fresh fruit, peanuts) and avoid eating out. Do keep yourself well hydrated and avoid spending money as much as possible. The only way you’re going to get a rental deposit is if you save money.
11. This is likely to be a highly emotional time right now, but try to keep a sense of perspective if you can – don’t turn up at your old house and cause trouble, don’t keep calling them and don’t take any calls from them either, unless you think there’s a genuine chance of moving back in. Remember, you are calling the shots now. You are now in complete control of your own life, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your own actions, and by doing that, you can turn down the volume of drama during an already stressful time.
12. If you do need to return to your old house, eg. to get belongings, phone the police and ask them to accompany you for safety as you left for (insert reason here) and they should be able to drive you there and you can use their boot for items. As long as you have a key to the property, you are entitled to access to get your belongings, although the person who lives there can legally ask for the key back at which point you can no longer gain access. I would avoid speaking to anyone in the house except to be polite, and be assertive – usually the police will only attend for 45 minutes, so if someone in the house is wasting your time, walk away from them and carry on packing your things.
13. Inform your doctor that you don’t live at your old place any more (unless this is a violation of your Community Treatment Order, in which case research where you stand so you don’t get dragged into hospital unless you need to). “Computer says no” type receptionists will often refuse to change the details until you have a new address. At least you’ve tried, and they should be able to put a note on your records. Make sure you keep taking any usual medication during this extremely difficult time. This is especially important if you’re bipolar or experience psychosis – stress is a huge trigger of bipolar and psychosis, so make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance by not making a big change to your treatment regime.
14. Try not to stress or lose hope. You do have a future, you have lots of opportunities and as long as you keep going, this situation will be over at some point soon. It seems like the end of the world right now, but you can fix this. Just take everything one day at a time and see where you get to.
Got any other things that I should have added to this checklist? Let me know in the comments.