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Centre for Housing Policy www.york.ac.uk/chp/ Youth Homelessness Homelessness.

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Presentation on theme: "Centre for Housing Policy www.york.ac.uk/chp/ Youth Homelessness Homelessness."— Presentation transcript:

1 Centre for Housing Policy Youth Homelessness Homelessness

2 Centre for Housing Policy Triggers of Youth Homelessness Social and economic exclusion Income poverty Housing deprivation Negative area effects Limited opportunities including poor education Financial pressures on family as child becomes young adult Loss of welfare payments associated with child as they become a young person

3 Centre for Housing Policy Triggers of youth homelessness Disruption during childhood Family breakups Abuse and violence Entering childcare system or contact with social work Being ‘thrown out’, sexuality, pregnancy, crime, bad behaviour, mental health problems or new partner of parent does not want them around Disruption to schooling Negative peer relationships Cultural expectations

4 Centre for Housing Policy Contributing factors to youth homelessness Falling outside the care system Childcare systems pulling back once someone is 16, 18 or 21 and providing less or no support Poor social supports Little or no reliable family support Poor peer support/negative relationships with peers Limited access to welfare systems Reduced access to welfare payments designed to ‘keep young people at home until ready for independence’ or assumption that they will be in parental home until in mid 20s, so no provision

5 Centre for Housing Policy Housing systems and youth homelessness Poor access to housing Landlords will not accept tenancies from young people Both private rented and social landlords Expectation of unreliability with rent and disruptive behaviour Welfare payments to help meet housing costs are either restricted for young people or are not provided Socio-economic position tends to be one of disrupted/low quality education, poorly positioned in labour markets, cannot secure sufficient income to meet housing costs

6 Centre for Housing Policy Youth homelessness causation Never just one single cause It is about their needs, characteristics and experiences, young homeless people have often been damaged by experiences as a child Poor family and peer supports or no such supports Economic marginalisation and poorer life chances than the general population All in context of structural barriers to housing, work and welfare systems

7 Centre for Housing Policy Broken pathways into adulthood Youth homelessness increasingly understood in terms of broken pathways/transitions into adulthood. Leaving parental home or care in unplanned ways with no resources, no support or clear plan. Resolution might be a return home or entry into youth homelessness services that lead to sustained housing or continued homelessness (Quilgars; Mayock)

8 Centre for Housing Policy Concerns and issues Lives that have been cut off from the opportunities and life chances that should be open to any citizen before adulthood even begins Youth homelessness is often one aspect of a wider and lasting exclusion, the NEET concept of being excluded from education, employment and training It is also often social exclusion, a lack of peer support, family support

9 Centre for Housing Policy Concerns and issues The ‘coping mechanisms’ employed by young homeless people are often detrimental to their health, well-being and safety Reliance on precarious arrangements, sofa surfing, can place them in vulnerable positions Some evidence of sex work as a means to secure income and accommodation Use of drugs and alcohol to ‘block out’ what is happening to them Survival crime and drug related crime Use of mainstream homelessness services may not be desirable or safe

10 Centre for Housing Policy Concerns and issues Some studies suggest that, at least initially, young people stick to the areas they know But there can be mobility: Escape from abusive situations, bad experiences Drawn to the possibilities that they imagine a city offers or service provision not available in rural areas Some evidence of young people within migrant homeless populations, e.g. Spain

11 Centre for Housing Policy Concerns and issues Young people who become homeless rarely do so from a situation of a happy, nurturing and affluent childhood Youth homelessness may deepen social and economic exclusion and make existing threats to health and well-being worse Potential fast track to permanent exclusion and perhaps sustained homelessness for some people Ageing cohort of chronically homeless people

12 Centre for Housing Policy Rising numbers? Our numbers on homelessness are not what they should be Work about to be published by FEANTSA shows that many EU countries failed to count homelessness in the 2011 Census Data are patchy, variable and collected on different bases and with differing definitions of ‘youth’ as well as of ‘homeless’ But we can be quite confident about the combination of causes of youth homelessness and many safety nets are being cut back

13 Centre for Housing Policy Rising numbers? Source : Quilgars, D. (2010) ‘Youth Homelessness’ in Homelessness Research in Europe

14 Centre for Housing Policy How to stop it Prevention is possible but being socially marginalised, poor and having inadequate parenting does not automatically make you homeless, so can be difficult to target UK ‘preventative’ services, e.g. housing advice, social lettings schemes for young people and family mediation may only be triggered after homelessness actually occurs General welfare safety nets and anti-exclusion policies aimed at children and young people probably effective in preventing more youth homelessness, but all being cut.

15 Centre for Housing Policy How to stop it Best response based on research evidence is rapid intervention to stop youth homelessness from being sustained Getting them away from the situation as fast as possible More than a roof responses essential, have to address widespread NEET status, poor social supports, poor health and well-being Tackling youth homelessness is as much about their social supports, economic position, life chances as about meeting housing need

16 Centre for Housing Policy Specialist services Young people are distinct from other homeless populations because they have all the potential of youth In broad terms their position should be salvageable and perhaps to a greater degree than an older person who has been homeless for a long period Recuperation of health and well-being, becoming economically active, entering further or higher education, development of good social supports may all be possible

17 Centre for Housing Policy Specialist services Specific accommodation based models such as the French/ UK ‘foyer’ movement that try to address economic and social position as well as meet housing need, transitional housing, some with additional services such as family mediation for prevention Mobile support workers in housing-led services who are specifically trained to meet the needs of young people Housing First models may be suitable for young homeless people with higher needs

18 Centre for Housing Policy Outstanding questions Youth homelessness is not always lone homelessness, there are couples, families, but we don’t know as much about them and what they need Is there a gender dimension to youth homelessness? Do young women and young men need different services? What about the links between sexuality and youth homelessness, are specific services needed there? Different ethnic or cultural groups may also require specific support? Wider question of how far specialist youth services are needed

19 Centre for Housing Policy Outstanding questions Causation is fairly well understood, but is there more we could do to develop targeting for early interventions and perhaps preventative services? There is still an association between experience of child services and youth homelessness. We’ve known about this for three decades, there has been some progress, but why haven’t we stopped it? This links to wider questions about what role child services should take in homelessness prevention.

20 Centre for Housing Policy Outstanding questions What is the extent and nature of mobility in youth homelessness and how concerned should we be about it? Is there a significant mobile population and how far is youth homelessness associated with migrant homelessness? We know services should respond rapidly and address exclusion, support needs and provide housing. But our evidence base is not perfect, knowing more about which service models work best would be very useful.

21 Centre for Housing Policy Countering ‘stay at home’ arguments Tendency to respond to youth homelessness in terms of young people ‘leaving home too early’ ‘Staying with parents’ until ‘ready’ is not an answer to youth homelessness where parental home is very unstable or abusive Tends to ignore possibility that parent or parents can and will eject young people and the assumption that ‘family’ is automatically ‘good’ is dubious

22 Centre for Housing Policy Thanks for listening Nicholas Pleace Centre for Housing Policy European Observatory on Homelessness


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