Youth homelessness is a complex issue and there are a variety of inter-connected issues which can lead to a young person becoming homeless.

Disadvantaged childhoods or Adverse Childhood Experiences

Young people experiencing disruption or trauma during childhood are significantly more likely to become homeless. Our research shows that 97% of homeless young people experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience and nearly a quarter experienced five or more. These experiences include disrupted living arrangements, neglect and physical and emotional abuse. 

Young people in care

People who have been in care are some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities. The traumas they have faced in their early lives often leave them extremely vulnerable to homelessness and significant mental health issues.

Too often, young people have been in multiple care placements and therefore have been to multiple schools. It would be difficult for anyone who has had ongoing unsettled experiences, at such a crucial time in their development, to form positive relationships.

Last year a quarter of the homeless young people we supported had been in care. They often have little choice but to deal with the challenges and responsibilities of living independently at a very young age. 

Family Relationship Breakdown

Relationship breakdown, often between a young person and their parent or step-parent, is one of the biggest causes of youth homelessness. Often this relationship breakdown has developed over many years and young people are left without the support networks that so many of us rely on. 

Find out more about our award-winning Family Mediation service.

Mental Health Issues

Homeless young people are significantly more likely to have mental health issues than their peers. Our research shows that 90% of the young people we support meet the criteria for at least one current mental health issue and 73% show symptoms of two or more psychiatric conditions.

Youth Offending

Around 15% of the young people we support have been involved with youth offending services. Very often young people who are involved in offending behaviour can become institutionalised and labelled and find it significantly harder than their peers to get back into education and employment. This significantly reduces their life chances and can lead to significant risk of homelessness in the future.

LGBT Young People

It is estimated that around a quarter of young homeless people are LGBT, making them about five times as likely as their peers to become homeless. For many young people parental rejection, or fear of it, along with abuse or violence leads directly to becoming homeless.

Exclusion from school

Dropping out of school early leaves young people with a future of limited opportunities and significantly increases their chances of becoming homeless in the future. Not being in education can also make it more difficult for young people to access help and support when they need it.

Welfare Reform

Welfare reform, and accompanying benefit sanctions, has undoubtedly led to a significant increase in the number of homeless young people. The introduction of Universal Credit will leave many young people, who are not able to rely on their family and friends for financial support, without enough money to live.

In 2016, the UK Government introduced reforms which ended the automatic entitlement for 18-21 year olds to the housing element of Universal Credit. For many young people, this means that they simply won’t be able to access rented accommodation, leaving many of them at risk of homelessness.

Lack of genuinely affordable housing

As rental prices continue to rise, and wages continue to stagnate, many young people find it increasingly difficult to earn enough money to pay rent. For young people without a family support network, it can be even more difficult for them to maintain their tenancies, with little hope of ever owning a property.

Lack of employment opportunities

Youth unemployment in Wales is 17.4%, and young people who have experienced homelessness or those who have come from more deprived backgrounds are likely to find it harder to secure employment than their peers. Young people who have been in care, young people who have been involved with the youth justice system or those who have dropped out of formal education at a young age are likely to have significantly fewer opportunities to secure employment.

Young people are often on zero-hours contacts when they start work which makes it much harder for them to budget their money and pay rent because they don’t have a steady and reliable income.