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Emergency options for homeless 16 to 25 year olds

Some young people can get emergency housing from the council.

You must have a priority need. For example, you're:

  • pregnant or have dependent children

  • under 21 and spent some time in care when aged 16 to 17

  • vulnerable because of a disability or serious health condition

You must also meet immigration and residence conditions to qualify for help.

How to contact your council's homeless team

What is your location?

You do not need an appointment if you have nowhere to stay tonight.

Every council has an out of hours emergency number if the office is closed.

16 and 17 year olds

If you're under 18 and homeless, social services are usually responsible for your housing and support. Your immigration status does not matter.

Find out about leaving home because of family problems.

Hostels: how to find one and what to expect

Most hostels have a waiting list unless they are 'direct access' or 'quick access'.

You can sometimes move into a direct access hostel on the same day if you:

  • can find a vacancy

  • meet the hostel's criteria

In London there are lots of hostels but very few vacancies. You usually need a referral from the council or another local organisation.

Outside London there are fewer hostels but they are more likely to take self referrals. This means you can contact the hostel yourself.

Search for a hostel

  1. Select 'Accommodation' under Service type

  2. Filter your results by location and support offered

Search for a hostel on Homeless Link

You may feel more comfortable living in a hostel with other young people.

You can filter your search results for certain groups. For example, couples, LGBTQ+, women only or young people.

Support offered and hostel rules

Each hostel is different so check what's offered on the Homeless Link tool.

You'll find information on:

  • level of support

  • how to get a referral

  • type of room – and if food is included

  • other rules including visitors, smoking and alcohol policies

Most hostels have a maximum length of stay. Hostel staff help you move on to more independent living when you're ready to do so.

Foyers are a type of hostel for young people in training, education or employment. You usually need to be referred by your local council.

Paying for a hostel

You do not usually need money up front. When you move in, you need to:

  • claim housing benefit – even if you already get universal credit

  • pay a weekly service charge for your room from other benefits or income

Refuges: how to find one and what to expect

Refuges are for people experiencing domestic abuse, usually from a partner or ex partner. They offer:

  • a safe place to stay at a confidential address

  • specialist staff who provide practical and emotional support

Violence or threats from your parents or family members

There may be specialist organisations who can help if you're not safe in your family home or have already left because of threats or violence.

The Albert Kennedy Trust (akt) can help you stay safe and find emergency housing if you identify as LGBTQ+.

Karma Nirvana supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. You could be referred to a refuge if you're experiencing this type of abuse.

Nightstops: how to find one and what to expect

Nightstops provide homeless people under 25 with free overnight accommodation in the home of a trained volunteer.

You can use the scheme for up to 3 weeks and might stay with the same host or different hosts during this time.

You get:

  • your own room

  • use of the bathroom and washing machine

  • breakfast, packed lunch and an evening meal

Depending on the scheme, you may need to contact them direct or get a referral from another organisation.

You'll be asked for references. Some schemes will not accept young people with a criminal record, history of violence, or a drug or alcohol problem.

If you're offered somewhere, you can usually go there the same night. A Nightstop volunteer driver can help you get there.

Last updated: 28 June 2023

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