Help if you’re homeless: 16 and 17 year-olds

Get help finding somewhere to live if you’re aged 16 or 17 and have nowhere to stay.

Find a place to stay

If you’re homeless and are aged 16 or 17 the children's services department at your council can help you. They can give you support and find you somewhere to stay if:

  • you can't return home and have nowhere else to live
  • your home is unsafe or unsuitable for you (for example, the person you’re living with is violent)
  • you’re staying with friends or another family and have been asked to leave

Contact your council and ask to speak to the duty social worker.

The social worker should find you a temporary place to stay while they work out what help you need. They will ask why you're homeless but won’t force you to go home if you don’t feel safe there.

You can find contact details for your local council on GOV.UK.

If you apply to the council's housing department

You can also apply for housing by contacting your council's housing department. If you do this, they usually refer you to children's services.

If the council agrees that you qualify for help, it will offer you temporary housing while the children's services department assesses your needs.

Find out more about applying to the council for help when homeless.

Housing you could be offered

You may be offered temporary housing for young people in:

  • a foster carer's home
  • shared housing provided by children's services
  • a hostel for young people (some offer you support)
  • housing that also offers education and training (known as 'foyers')
  • a volunteer family's home (known as the 'Nighstop scheme')

You shouldn't be housed in a bed and breakfast unless there's no other housing available.

If you aren’t offered temporary housing

If you aren’t offered temporary housing while your needs are assessed, you can get help from a Shelter adviser:

An adviser will also be able to help you if you don’t want to stay in the housing the council offer you. You should accept the housing offered first, or you may not be able to get further help.

Help with living costs

The children’s services department at your council can usually also help you with living costs. They also often help with:

  • training and education
  • advice about money and personal issues

If you apply to the housing department rather than children's services, you usually need to apply for benefits yourself to help with living costs. Find out more about benefits for young people on Citizens Advice.

If you’re under 16

If you’re under 16, children’s services at your council will usually try to help you find a way to stay at home. If this isn't possible, they will find you a temporary place to stay. This could be in foster care with another family, for example.

You can find the contact details for your local council on GOV.UK.

If you’re over 18

If you’re 18 or over you can apply to the council’s housing department for help to find somewhere to live. You may get housing or just advice, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more about getting help from the council.

If you’ve been in care

If you’ve been in care you can get help from social services until your 21st birthday, or until your 25th birthday if you're in education or training. This may include help with housing, living costs and advice.

If you're over 21 and were in care before you were 18, you may get help with housing from the council's housing department if you’re considered ‘vulnerable’. This means you find it harder to cope with being homeless.

Find out more about help and housing for care leavers.

Help in London

If you’re homeless in London you can get help from:

Shelter’s London advice service
020 3733 1942

Alone in London
020 7278 4224

New Horizons Youth Centre

Still need help?

You can get help and advice from:

Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444

8am – 8pm on weekdays and 8am – 5pm on weekends, 365 days a year


0800 1111
24 hours
Calls are free

Last updated - 01 Jan 2016

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