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National Homeless Advice Service

Emergency housing for 16 and 17 year olds

Emergency accommodation for homeless 16 and 17 year olds must be suitable. The Homeless Code of Guidance for Local Authorities states that bed and breakfast accommodation is unlikely to be suitable for 16 and 17 year olds and must only be used, if at all, for the shortest time possible. The guidance also states that appropriate support is provided where necessary.

Emergency accommodation and support options

There may be a range of options available to a young person, depending on the availability and local authority provision. Many of these options will be emergency and short-term options, but some will be longer-term and form part of an accommodation and support pathway.

Many of the emergency and supported accommodation options provided by local authorities will be available not just to 16 and 17 year olds, but also to other young people. This page focuses on respite, emergency, and short-term supported accommodation options for 16 and 17 year olds - for more information on services for other groups, please see the pages emergency housing for 18 to 25 year olds or care leavers.

A young person might return home immediately after a short stay in emergency accommodation, or might move straight from living at home to any one of several accommodation options. They might move back home intermittently or permanently - there will not necessarily be a linear progression from becoming homeless to living in supported accommodation to settling in their own tenancy.

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Different types of accommodation

Emergency accommodation options should be short term and quick access, and should provide either (or both) an appropriate and supportive environment where a young person can stay until alternative provision is arranged, or respite/time out from family crisis, with the young person returning home after a short stay.

Family and friends

The extended family and friends of a young person may be able to offer a temporary (or longer-term) place to stay.

For more information, see the section living with friends and extended family.


Respite accommodation provides a planned or emergency break for young people from their families at a time of crisis. The aim is to provide help and support for the family- by giving everyone some breathing space, immediate crisis can be avoided and longer term problems can begin to be discussed.

For more information, see the page respite accommodation.


A young person in need of emergency accommodation could be placed in a foster care or children’s home, but it is more likely that they will be placed in one of the following:

  • Nightstop (or similar) - short term emergency accommodation with a supported accommodation host. This is a service where young people are placed in an approved (usually volunteer) family home. It is intended as a supportive but ‘light-touch’ option (and so may not be the best solution for young people with high support needs).
  • Crashpad (or similar) - a longer term version of the Nightstop model
  • Short stay (direct access) hostels for young people aged 16 to 25
  • Foyers - these vary in size and the amount of support they offer. Some are converted houses (for 10 to 20 people) but most are much larger purpose-built hostels that can house 100 people or more.
  • Supported lodgings - accommodation with hosts/carers, which can last for up to two years. Supported lodgings provide young people with a home environment. Most supported lodgings schemes are run by the local authority Children’s Services, although some are commissioned from private or voluntary sector or providers.

Young people can move through these options: however, their support can include a continuing focus on homelessness prevention, so it will still be possible for young people to return home.

Good practice - 1st Base Housing Support: Greenwich Council

Good practice - CAYSH: supported lodgings

St Christopher’s - Assessment centres

In some larger authorities there are dedicated assessment centres or short stay accommodation units for young people.

Supported lodgings for care leavers

The supported lodging model is also used for the provision of accommodation and support services for young care leavers, especially those who wish to remain with their foster families.

For more information on housing and support for care leavers, see the section care leavers.

Further information

For more information on longer-term and move-on supported accommodation for young people, see moving on from emergency and short-term accommodation.

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Challenging unsuitable emergency accommodation provision

It should not be the case that homeless young people are placed in inappropriate temporary accommodation far from their families, friends and other networks. They should also not be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. For more information, see challenges to unsuitable accommodation.

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