"I had to go to some extraordinary lengths before things started to look up for me. It strikes me as very strange that there doesn't seem to be any accountability on the decisions they make about people's cases."

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More than a decade after having worked in a homeless hostel, James Anderson found himself living in one for more than six months from September 2013 after his marriage ended in separation.  

When he presented as homeless to the Housing Executive he was told he wasn't in priority need of housing. He was awarded 70 points and didn't know whether he should be entitled to more or when an offer of housing would come.

"I wasn't habitually homeless or a ‘revolving-door’ hostel resident like a lot of people seem to be. But there needs to be a clearer process for how people can access and understand the correct information. I’m not sure Housing Executive are being deliberately misleading, but it definitely remains vague enough to confuse people."

James found that his circumstances should have meant he received more points and better prospects of being offered housing. Though he was in a position to be able to start using the information he gathered, more barriers kept appearing before him.

He struggled to get important evidence of his situation acknowledged by the Housing Executive.

They denied having received a letter about James needing to be rehoused so his two young children could stay with him each week and he could enjoy family life again. He was awarded points when an NIHE official eventually checked the file containing the letter, rather than the online records where it hadn't been noted.

James then supplied evidence of his prescribed medication to treat the situational depression he was diagnosed with. NIHE refused to award any additional points until James' GP took action and wrote a letter on his behalf.

At one point he also sought assistance from a local political representative who then contacted NIHE, only to be wrongly told that James' case was closed.

James eventually managed to receive the correct points more than six months after entering the hostel. He credits his Simon Community Support Worker for helping to advance his case: "she was fantastic and didn't hesitate to make calls on my behalf."

The Housing Executive contacted him to offer a flat within days of his full housing need being established.

"I had to go to some extraordinary lengths before things started to look up for me. It strikes me as very strange that there doesn't seem to be any accountability on the decisions they make about people's cases."

Months after being rehoused, James is now waiting on Housing Executive contractors to carry out overdue maintenance work to bring his new home to a standard fit for his children to visit.