Young people must not be left behind: Preventing youth homelessness after COVID-19

Friday, 29 May 2020 - 9:30am

The youth homelessness crisis in England is nothing new. However, the fall-out of COVID-19 has made the disadvantages faced by young people even more severe.

As part of the #EveryoneInForGood campaign, we are calling for decisive cross-governmental action to ensure that young people are not left behind in the next phase of post-lockdown planning.  

National youth homelessness helplines have reported a doubling in calls during the COVID-19 lockdown, many from young people trapped in abusive households. At the same time, the erosion of many supports usually present, along with persistent barriers like the shortage of accommodation, mean that many are not getting the help they desperately need.

Young people have different experiences of, and ways into, homelessness than adults. They are frequently in ‘hidden’ homeless situations –staying with friends, acquaintances and sometimes strangers– and lockdown measures, alongside widespread loss of jobs and income, have seen many of these arrangements break down. Family tensions –always a key driver of youth homelessness– have also been exacerbated, particularly for LGBTQ+ young people, those with mental health needs and those otherwise living in abusive households.

So far, the government response has overwhelmingly focused on adult patterns of rough sleeping and homelessness. Now and in the longer-term, youth-specific responses are needed to address the major repercussions of COVID-19 on young people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

In a new policy briefing published today, we outline what we have heard from our members at the frontline of youth homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis and put forward our recommendations for supporting young people as we transition out of lockdown. Our key recommendations include:

  1. Government must urgently develop a cross-departmental strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness, which recognises the long-term impact of COVID-19 on young people.
  2. The Ministry of Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) must provide long-term capital and revenue investment to address the severe shortage of suitable supported and move-on options for young people.
  3. The Rough Sleeping Taskforce should work with partners to develop youth specific plans and actions to prevent and end rough sleeping.

Read our briefing, Preventing youth homelessness after COVID-19: lessons and opportunities from the crisishere.

For more information about our campaign to bring #EveryoneInForGood after COVID-19, click here.

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Jennie Corbett

Policy Manager

Jennie is a Policy Manager at Homeless Link.