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What is Housing First for Youth?

Adapted from the Housing First approach, Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) is a rights-based intervention for young people who are experiencing homelessness, or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The goal is to:

  • Help prevent homelessness or help young people to quickly exit homelessness and support
  • Address the needs of developing adolescents and young people and facilitate a healthy transition to adulthood, all while having a safe and stable place to call home.

What’s different from Housing First?

Young people have specific needs related to their age

HF4Y is a relationship-based recovery model, focusing on young people’s strengths, building autonomy and recognising the impact of trauma in people’s lives.

Age matters when it comes to psychological, social, physical and emotional development. HF4Y builds on the core principles of Housing First but goes further in adapting them to better serve the specific needs of adolescents and young adults.

While Housing First seeks to restore autonomy and independence to adults who feel they have lost it, HF4Y seeks to help young people develop their autonomy from
the beginning.


Other considerations

Flexible Housing Options

Young people often need more choice and flexibility with their accommodation. It is normal for young to experiment and explore, as a natural part of growing up. This helps them to experience and learn from challenges, develop resilience and identify what they want to do and who they want to be. HF4Y responds to young people's natural desire to change living location or situation, more often than adults. It provides space for them to take risks and 'fail', and provides intensive support that helps build their tenancy management skills and independence. It offers both stability and flexibility.

This enables young people to safely explore different options. Most importantly, HF4Y ensures that the accompanying support services stay with the young person as they move from one home to the next.

Prevention focus

In HF4Y, there’s a strong focus on rapid response and prevention, acting as quickly as possible to prevent young people from becoming homeless, either for the first time or to prevent repeat experiences of homelessness. This includes rapidly intervening to support young people already experiencing homelessness, in order to minimise the length of this experience, at this crucial developmental stage in their lives.

Positive youth development

Positive youth development is a strengths based model, that works to enhance the protective factors and resilience of young people. It recognises the physical cognitive, emotional and social needs of developing adolescents and young adults. Central to this is that young people are not rushed to assume the same responsibilities of an independent adult. Focus is instead given to supporting needs, developing skills and confidence and providing stability. This may involve: identifying personal strengths and goals, working to improve communication and problem solving skills, supporting reconnection with family members and other natural supports, and support to build or repair these relationships.

"Young people described a different kind of relationship with HF4Y workers. They valued the ‘stickability’, recognising that the relationship was not time-limited or attached to where they lived."
Rock-Trust Housing First for Youth Pilot Evaluation Report

Housing First for Youth Webinar

Webinar PowerPoint Slides

You can also check out our Youth Homelessness page

Featuring resources for organisations and individuals on how they can develop their practice to meet the needs of young people accessing their services, and our research into the particular reasons young people become homelessness.

Find out more
Group talking