Youth homelessness 'on the rise'

Homeless man in sleeping bagThe number of homeless young people in England is rising, with services struggling to meet demand, new research has found.
Council and charity homeless services are seeing a rise in youth homelessness, which could get worse in the current difficult economic climate.
The Young & Homeless report - carried out by national charity Homeless Link, which represents organisations working with homeless people in England - surveyed 79 homeless charities and 108 local authority housing services in October about how the problem affects 16-24 year olds. It comes ahead of the Government's own latest figures on homelessness, which are expected to be released this week.

The report found over the past year nearly half of homelessness services (44%) and councils (48%) saw an increase in young people seeking help because they are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless.

The number one cause was relationship breakdowns with family and friends - on average 50% of young people seen by charities and 65% seen by councils gave relationship breakdown as the cause, the study found.

The report found 62% of young homeless people seen by charities were not in education, employment or training; 46% were in financial difficulties; and 26% had experience of sleeping rough.

It highlighted concerns over how services are handling the growing demand - 48% of homeless agencies reported turning away young single homeless people because their resources were stretched to the limit.

The report made a number of recommendations, including protecting advice and prevention services from local authority cuts.

It also recommended making it easier for young people to rent private sector housing and ensuring they don't get squeezed out by rising rent costs and increased demand for housing, as well as providing better access to education, training and employment for young people who find themselves homeless.

Jacqui McCluskey, director of Policy and Communications for Homeless Link, said: "With rising youth unemployment, a changing welfare system and many families struggling to get by, youth homelessness is likely to get worse. We can't prevent the recession but we can limit the impact it is having on the next generation."
© 2011 Press Association
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