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Youth Homelessness: the causes

Violence, abuse, family breakdown and problems with mental health: young people often become homeless because it’s safer to leave home than to stay.

According to our research, 121,000 young people asked for help with homelessness last year - this needs to change.

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. These are the “hidden homeless”.

Never been back

On Christmas Day, Josh went to hospital with chronic pain, where he was diagnosed with sciatica. To make matters worse, a relative came to visit him and told him he couldn’t go home.

The causes of youth homelessness

There are lots of reasons why young people become homeless. 

An icon representing a family breakdown, one of the main reasons for youth homelessness in the UK.

Family breakdown

Relationship breakdown, usually between young people and their parents (or step-parents), is a major cause of youth homelessness. Around six in 10 young people who come to Centrepoint say they had to leave home because of arguments, relationship breakdown or being told to leave.

An icon representing the impact homelessness can have on a young person's mental health.

Physical and mental health

Young people who come to Centrepoint face a range of different, complex problems. More than a third have a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, and another third are tackling issues with substance misuse. A similar amount need to improve their physical health. 

A icon representing that being homeless often disrupts education.

Exclusion from school

Not being in education can make it far more difficult for young people to access help with problems at home or health issues. Missing out on formal education can also make it more difficult for them to move into work.

An icon representing Centrepoint provides support from those leaving supported accommodation.

Leaving care

More than a quarter of young people at Centrepoint have been in care. They often have little choice but to deal with the challenges and responsibilities of living independently at a young age. Traumas faced in early life makes care leavers some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities.

An icon representing refugees. Many young people who seek asylum in the UK have no choice but to become homeless.


Around 14 per cent of young people at Centrepoint are refugees. This includes young people who have come to the UK as unaccompanied minors, fleeing violence or persecution in their own country. After being granted asylum, young people sometimes find themselves with nowhere to go and end up on the streets.

Gang crime icon

Gang crime

Homeless young people are often affected by gang-related problems. In some cases, it becomes too dangerous to stay in their local area, meaning they can end up homeless.

A girl looks out of the window

Get the facts about homelessness

Without knowing the full picture, how can we end youth homelessness?

There is no accurate source of information on the scale of youth homelessness in the UK – that’s why we’ve created the Youth Homelessness Databank.

Enter the databank

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The effects of youth homelessness

Youth homelessness is complex and a different experience for every young people we support. Here are some of the main risks of being homeless. 

Learn more

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Preventing youth homelessness

The best way to protect young people from the devastating impact of homelessness is to stop it from happening at all.

Read Our Research

Centrepoint's homeless support services. Call our Helpline if you are ever in need of support.

Are you homeless or at risk of homelessness?

If you’re experiencing any of these issues and aged between 16 and 25, the Centrepoint Helpline is here to help you.

Contact the Helpline

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