If there are risks at home or a young person feels they need to move out for their own safety, and there do not appear to be any other options, then a young person must be provided with a safe, clear route to alternative accommodation, whether respite, temporary or permanent.
Although a young person and their family may appear to have reached breaking point, and the young person’s departure seems imminent, it may still be possible for Children’s Services or Housing Services to intervene at this stage to prevent the young person becoming homeless through:
Where a young person is likely to become homeless in the next 56 days, they are legally ‘threatened with homelessness’. See Shelter’s housing advice for what this means.
Young people who have left home suddenly, and perhaps as the result of family breakdown, may not be ready to live independently in their own unsupported tenancy. The best option for them at this stage in their life will probably be for them to continue to live in a home environment.
Although for some young people staying with a relative,friend, or other person previously connected with them is just ‘sofa surfing’ and an insecure form of accommodation, for others it can be a safe and secure alternative to returning to the parental home.
Living with extended family does not however mean that all problems have been solved - local authorities and their partners should continue to deliver appropriate services to children and young people in these circumstances. See living with friends and family for more information.
Short-term respite, short break and emergency accommodation can give a young person and their family breathing space, while arrangements are made for mediation and support to help avoid the situation deteriorating any further. This can result in the young person successfully returning to the family house, and avoiding homelessness.
Alternatively, respite accommodation can provide an emergency stay of a few nights while other arrangements are made for a young person who cannot return home.
For more information, see respites and short breaks.
Supported accommodation (for example, in hostels, supported accommodation schemes and foyers) can provide a safe environment to help young people affected by homelessness make the transition to long term accommodation, or be assisted to reconnect with their families. Residents may be able to access work, education and training opportunities, and learn skills to live independently.
Costs for supported accommodation for young people aged 18+ are currently met through housing benefit and housing related support funds . Young people aged 16 and 17 will have their housing costs met by the local authority (usually by children’s services).
Because supported accommodation is more expensive than general rented accommodation, young people who want to start work or training may find they are unable to afford to pay their accommodation and support costs.
See accommodation and support pathways for more information.
Between the time spent in supported accommodation and moving to more independent housing options, young people may continue to receive support in their homes. This can be provided at different levels, from high to low, and can also be floating or visiting support. This is intended for young people who can gradually become more able to manage living independently.
At this stage, there may also still be opportunities for the young person to return home, and support measures such as mediation and family group conferencing can help towards this goal. For more information, see returning to the family home.
Some young people with complex or multiple needs may need ongoing support to successfully maintain a tenancy. See the section Young people and tenancy sustainment.
Settled accommodation for young people over the age of 18 may be in the private rented sector, in social rented housing or with family, friends or a partner.
See longer-term accommodation options for more information.
There are restrictions on the welfare benefits that young people can claim - the section benefits.