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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing solutions for vulnerable young people

Homelessness is experienced differently by young people than by adults: the causes and conditions are different, so the responses and solutions must also be different.  FEANTSA and Fondation Abbé Pierre have carried out research to understand how young people in Europe experience homelessness and make recommendations to help young people access and sustain suitable housing.

Young people and housing

Across Europe, the under 30s have been particularly affected by the budget cuts and austerity policies of the last few years.  Housing discrimination based on age or income is very commonly experienced by young people.  The report demonstrates that a significant number of young people in Europe are inadequately housed.  In addition to being particularly affected by unfit housing, young people are spending large amounts on housing.

In 2015, among European 20-29 year olds living below the poverty threshold:

  • 15% were living in severe housing deprivation.
  • 47% of this group were overburdened by housing costs, i.e. spending more than 40% of their income on housing.
  • In the United Kingdom, 56% of those living in severe housing deprivation were overburdened by housing costs.
  • The stability and wellbeing of over half of the UK’s impoverished young people are endangered by housing expenditure.

It is reported that 18-29 year olds represent 20-30% of the total number of homeless people in the majority of European countries. While more and more young people seek assistance from social services, many young homeless people still avoid asking for assistance until their situation is untenable. They tend to use up their alternative options by staying with friends, family or other contacts before asking for assistance from the sector.


Provide accessible, decent and suitable housing: social and affordable housing as a structural solution

Emergency accommodation is not a sustainable solution to the problems that young homeless people face, and it can make matters worse. Short-term accommodation and non-specialised emergency centres should be used only as a last resort.  Investing in social housing is vital for housing accessibility.

Provide appropriate support towards independence in permanent housing

Access to affordable housing without preconditions is essential: the varied needs of young people in difficulty must be taken into consideration so that the process of inclusion through housing is as appropriate as possible. Housing First for Youth, as a human rights based approach, is essential for any youth homelessness strategy.

Maximise the potential for mobility between different types of housing

It is vital that young adults find a balance between feeling secure and being able to move to different housing types. It is important to have a range of available options, which ideally should be interconnected and complementary.

Provide cross-cutting solutions that also enable access to training and employment

Access to employment is a key factor in inclusion; however, employment cannot succeed without prior access to stable, secure and suitable housing.  Projects that bring together access to housing and support for integrating into work and training should be developed.

How can Housing Rights help?

On Wednesday 8 November, Housing Rights is delivering housing-specific training to assist frontline workers who work with young people.  The course will examine:

  • Duties towards homeless young persons &  emergency accommodation options for 16-21 year olds
  • The respective roles and responsibilities of the Housing Executive and Social Services
  • Private rented sector options for young people, including information on Houses in Multiple Occupation and restrictions on Housing Benefit
  • Social housing options for young people, including tenancy rights and Housing Benefit

By the end of the course, advisers will have a thorough understanding of young people’s housing rights, and be better able to advise young people about the housing options that are available to them. If you have any specific training needs, please contact our training team.

If you are struggling to pay for your home, contact our helpline on 028 90 245640.

Tagged In

Minority Groups, Research, Homelessness, Affordability

This article was written on 10 October 2017. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.