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The Issue

Homelessness is not only a housing problem.

There are lots of reasons why a young person could become homeless, including family breakdown and mental health issues.

More than the streets The Issue of youth homelessness

Youth homelessness is so much more than not having somewhere to sleep. There are usually complex needs involved, affecting both the young person and their families.

Josh, a Centrepoint young person

Josh's story

On Christmas Day 2016, Josh went to hospital with chronic pain and was diagnosed with sciatica.

To make matters worse, a relative visited him and told him he couldn’t go home.

Read Josh's story

Family breakdown Anger and abuse

Relationship breakdown, usually between young people and their parents or step-parents, is a major cause of youth homelessness. Around six in ten young people who come to Centrepoint say they had to leave home because of arguments, relationship breakdown or being told to leave. Many have experienced long-term problems at home, often involving violence, leaving them without the family support networks that most of us take for granted.

Complex needs Mental and physical

Young people who come to Centrepoint face a range of different and complex problems. More than a third have a mental health issue, such as depression and anxiety, another third need to tackle issues with substance misuse. A similar proportion also need to improve their physical health. These problems often overlap, making it more difficult for young people to access help and increasing the chances of them becoming homeless.

Deprivation Prospects and poverty

Young people's chances of having to leave home are higher in areas of high deprivation and poor prospects for employment and education. Many of those who experience long spells of poverty can get into problem debt, which makes it harder for them to access housing.

Gang crime Dangerous to stay

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.

Exclusion from school Missing the signs

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

Leaving care On their own

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 their early lives make care leavers some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities, with higher chances of poor outcomes in education, employment and housing. Their additional needs mean they require a higher level of support to maintain their accommodation.

Refugees Fleeing war and conflict

Around 14 per cent of young people at Centrepoint are refugees or have leave to remain, meaning it isn't safe to return home. This includes young people who 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 can end up homeless.

Centrepoint supports more than 10,000 homeless young people a year - almost a third are under the age of 18

28% have been living in care
28% have been living in care
27% have slept slept rough
27% have slept rough
14% are refugees
14% are refugees

What is statutory homelessness? legally entitled

Only some homeless people are legally entitled to be housed by their local authority. The people that local authorities prioritise (in England, Scotland and Wales) are referred to as 'statutory homeless'. To be classed as statutory homeless you have to be eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and fall within a 'priority need' group. The priority need groups include pregnant women, those with dependent children and people who are vulnerable in some way for reasons such as mental illness or physical disability. The people that meet this criteria are referred to as ‘acceptances’. If you need more information about your legal rights, contact our Helpline.

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The Youth Homelessness Databank
The Youth Homelessness Databank

Get the facts

Facts and figures about youth homelessness are ambiguous and difficult to understand. Without knowing the true picture, how can we find the right solution?

That's why Centrepoint set up the Youth Homelessness Databank – a team dedicated to finding the facts.

The Youth Homelessness Databank

What's the solution? A home and a job

A safe, warm and stable place to live is the first, crucial step for every homeless young person. Then, we help to tackle physical and mental health issues, teach basic life skills and get them back into education, training or a job - this is the recipe for supporting homeless young people into positive and independent living.

Find out more about the solution

Are you young, homeless and in need of help?

If you're experiencing any of these issues and are aged 16-25, or you know someone who is, we may have advice for you.

Get Help Now