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National Homeless Advice Service

How to access housing and support

Young people asking local authorities for help with housing crisis may need varying levels of support and access to appropriate accommodation.

How young people can access help

There is no uniform method of access for young people to housing support and other services for their well-being and development. Many local authorities operate an integrated services approach which can offer young people advice and information on housing issues and signposting to support, as well as accepting homelessness applications.

Young people may be able to access local support services for the prevention of homelessness in different ways, for example:

  • referrals made via a partner organisation or Children’s Services
  • self-access at local authority single or central access point, which may be run in partnership with a commissioned organisation
  • through the Housing Options service
  • signposting from any other relevant organisation, for example a housing or welfare advice centre

For more information on how to access local authority housing support services, see advice and referrals.

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Who provides support and emergency housing?

With a few exceptions, Children’s Services act as the lead service in assessing and meeting the needs of 16 and 17 year olds who seek local authority help because of homelessness. They may also be involved in supporting young people aged 18 to 25 who were formerly in the care of the local authority. See Access to housing and support for 16 and 17 year olds.

Many local authorities provide an integrated service or ‘gateway’ for young people aged 16 and 17 to access advice and support. Similar options are available to young people aged between 18 and 25 years.

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What support is provided?

If the young person is provided with temporary accommodation, support can also be put in place to encourage family mediation or family group conferences, while at the same time, support services can continue with the assessment of the young person’s needs. In this way the next move can be a planned move to appropriate accommodation. If the young person is able to return home (or to extended family or friends), support to deal with recurring problems should be put in place.

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What about longer-term arrangements?

If temporary accommodation leads to a more permanent arrangement and the key issues affecting the young person’s ability to remain or return to the family home are not resolved, adequate support must be provided to enable the young person to successfully make the transition to independent living.

Even after a young person has been provided with supported or move-on accommodation, there may still be opportunities to support a move back home in the future.

Additional options will be available for care leavers.

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What are the barriers to access?

Young people may not find it easy to access local authority services. For more information, see advice and referrals: overcoming barriers to access.

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