Homelessness means being without a safe and secure place to live. Young people end up homeless for all sorts of different reasons, including:
- family conflict
- physical and/or sexual abuse by family members
- an abusive relationship with a partner
- unemployment and poverty, e.g. not being able to afford housing
- substance abuse
Young people who are homeless can face a lot of difficult circumstances, and sometimes find themselves in dangerous situations to try to ‘get by’. This is why it’s important that you seek support if you are homeless now, i.e. you don’t have a safe and secure place to stay, or you are at risk of homelessness.
Local council have a legal obligation to help anyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness. The kind of help offered depends on your age and circumstances.
The council will always try to prevent a young person from becoming homeless if possible. This might include things like offering the whole family help to resolve the conflict so you can stay at home or helping you to find emergency accommodation.
If you are 16 or 17
The local council has a legal duty towards 16- or 17-year-olds who are at risk of homelessness.
If you are a care leaver, the council’s duty to find you a safe place to stay will usually continue until you are 21, or 25 if you are in full-time education
If you are 18 or over
Councils also have a duty to help anyone who is homeless or in danger of becoming homeless in the next 56 days– this help depends on your circumstances but will usually include support to prevent you becoming homeless or help you to look for suitable accommodation.
- Even if the council has a duty to find accommodation for you, it doesn’t mean you are entitled to social housing – you might be offered suitable private rented accommodation.
- If you are 18–21 and you start a new benefit claim, you won’t automatically be entitled to the housing element of Universal Credit (previously known as Housing Benefit).
- If you are under 35, you may only be entitled to the lower ‘shared room’ rate of the housing costs element of Universal Credit (there are some exceptions).
It’s important to get the right advice about what you’re entitled to claim before making any final decision about renting a property or room.
Check out Shelter Cymru’s comprehensive information about housing for under 25s. Anyone who is facing eviction, should also seek legal advice from Shelter.
Llamau operates a floating support service for young people at risk of homelessness. Tel: 01495 301351
Crisis provides one-to-one support for homeless people. Tel: 01792 674900.
Become supports young people in care and care leavers. Freephone 0800 023 2033 (10am–5pm, weekdays)