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Getting a place in a hostel

Updated: 20 Feb 2019
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Hostel staff can offer support, information and advice
Homeless hostel Ballymena
For many homeless people, hostel accommodation is their only housing option. There is a wide variety of hostels, shared houses or flats and other accommodation for homeless people. Direct access hostels and nightshelters can provide accommodation for people without a bed for the night. Homeless people can usually refer themselves and despite these hostels often being full, there are relatively frequent vacancies. Second stage, non-direct access hostels and housing projects usually have waiting lists and often require referrals from homelessness agencies.
Hostels vary in terms of size and how long they will allow you to stay. Some of the remaining traditional hostels are large buildings with many residents, often staying in dormitories or shared rooms. In recent years however, there has been an increase in the development of smaller schemes consisting of single rooms in smaller buildings, shared houses and flats.
In addition to providing accommodation, many hostels have staff who offer support to residents, recognising that many homeless people have support needs as well as housing need. Support can vary from simple information and advice on benefits or other such matters, to more in-depth help with independent living skills, emotional support and assistance with finding move-on accommodation. Some hostels provide specialist support for residents with alcohol, drug, health or mental health problems.

Getting into a hostel

There are some emergency hostels that accept self referrals from homeless people themselves. These hostels will only be able to help if they have a vacancy and the person applying is appropriate to the service they provide. Other hostels only accept referrals from agencies such as the Housing Executive, Social Services or other agencies working with homeless people.
The Council for Homelessness NI (Adobe PDF 168 KB) website offers a full list of all hostels.

Paying for Housing Executive hostel charges

You can make your Housing Executive hostel payment online through Allpay. This service allows you to pay bills 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by debit card.
To use this service you will need an Allpay card.
Current hostel dwellers will receive a card when they arrive at the hostel, while past hostel dwellers will receive a card in the post if requested.
If you are using the service for the first time you will have to register your details and have your Allpay card to hand, as you will require the payment reference numbers.
Please visit our online payment page for more information, or to pay online.