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Young people’s experiences of homelessness are distinct from adults

Their pathways into homelessness, experiences while homeless and exits out of homelessness are different than adults.

Young people also face multiple forms of structural disadvantage. For example, young people face a disproportionate risk of poverty, receive reduced welfare benefit entitlements, have a lower minimum wage, and face discrimination in the labour markets.

Other differences are:

  • The majority of young people have left homes and relationships which they were, to some extent, economically and socially dependent on,
  • Young people are going through a period of significant change and development
  • Exiting homelessness is not only about a transition to housing but must also include a healthy transition to adulthood
  • Policies often discriminate against young people making it difficult to access housing

Understanding young people’s development

During adolescence and into young adulthood, the brain goes through a period of significant reorganisation. Young people accessing homelessness settings often have experiences of developmental trauma: early, repeated trauma and loss which happens within important relationships.

Read more about how practitioners can adapt their practice to be respectful of these needs and empower young people towards independence and out of homelessness.

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Preventing youth homelessness

"I had nowhere to go so I climbed a tree so people couldn’t attack me and slept outside for a few weeks. I remembered it from Hunger Games."

Any young person at risk of homelessness should be able to approach their local council and receive the support they need to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, many are unable to access this assistance and end up in risky situations, rough sleeping or sofa beginning a cycle of homelessness and exclusion.

Read more about actions local authorities and charity sector organisations are taking to prevent young people becoming homeless, by improving young people’s access to, and experience of, housing and homelessness supports.

Learn about youth-informed systems practice

Our research on youth homelessness

For 8 years Homeless Link has carried out research into the particular reasons young people become homelessness, the support available to them, and areas where improvements should be made.

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