Young person on balcony overlooking cityscape

What is youth homelessness?

Being homeless means not having a safe place to call home. We know many young people sleep rough every night, but there are thousands more sleeping on sofas, floors, night buses or with strangers.

When people hear ‘homeless’, most often their minds go to rough sleeping but this is just part of the issue. While 31% of Centrepoint residents have slept rough being homeless means not having a safe place to call home.

Not having a door you can close and feel secure – a space you can call your own. A homeless person may be ‘sofa surfing’ where they are going from friend to friend relying on other people’s kindness to have somewhere to sleep. They may be at risk of homelessness because they are staying in a place where they are not safe but know that situation may change any day.

Almost 136,000 young people approached their local authority for help in 2022-23. That’s one young person becoming homeless every four minutes.

Real numbers are significantly higher

We know that is just the tip of the iceberg – many more young people won’t have approached their local authority for help. The real number of young people experiencing homelessness is likely to be significantly higher. 

Causes of youth homelessness

The most significant cause of youth homelessness is family or relationship breakdown – 58% of Centrepoint residents left their last home because of family or relationship breakdown. But there are many other causes too. For example, leaving care can be incredibly difficult and if this transition is not managed properly, vulnerable young people can end up facing homelessness.

Penalised for working

Even when a young homeless person has found somewhere stable, such as Centrepoint, the challenges do not end for them. Welfare benefit rules mean they can get penalised for working too much and their lower rate of benefit means they have to make difficult decisions about how to spend their money before they can even think about saving for a deposit to rent their own place. When they have the deposit, private landlords will not let to them because they have a history of homelessness.

How you can help

All of these issues can land on a young person at a critical time in their life and have long lasting ramifications on their future. We know that by helping a young person now we can help them have the future where they can achieve their true full potential.

Will you help us end youth homelessness?