Homeless help if you're 16 or 17
Social services - often called children's services - have the main responsibility for housing and support if you're under 18 and homeless.
The homeless team - sometimes called housing options or the housing department - must also provide emergency housing if you approach them first.
You can choose which part of the council to go to first.
If you already have a social worker get in touch with them.
You will usually be referred to children's services at some point even if you go to the homeless team first.
Help from the homeless team
The homeless team must:
provide emergency housing if you need it
assess your situation and draw up a personal housing plan
refer you to social services for a 'child in need' assessment
The homeless team cannot help if you do not meet immigration conditions but they should still refer you to social services for housing and support.
Help from social services
Social services can give you support and find you somewhere to stay if you:
cannot return home and have nowhere else to live
are staying with friends or another family and have been asked to leave
are unsafe in your home, for example, because you're at risk of violence or abuse
Will you have to go back to your family home?
If you ask for help, the council will look into your situation.
This may involve speaking to your parents or other family members to check if you can stay safely with them.
Your welfare is the top priority and you should not be pressured to return somewhere where:
you feel unsafe
you're at risk of violence or abuse
you've been told you cannot stay or must leave
If returning home or staying with someone else is a possibility, the council should still provide emergency housing until they're sure that this is a safe option for you.
Find out about leaving home because of family problems.
Types of housing you may be offered
The council may offer you a place in a:
hostel or foyer
foster carer's home
shared house with other young people
volunteer's home through a scheme called Nightstop
You should accept what the council offers even if you do not want to stay there. You might not be offered anything else if you turn it down.
You should not be left without anywhere to stay if you're under 18 and homeless.
Help with rent and living costs
Social services must usually help you with rent and other living costs. You cannot usually get benefits if social services help you with your living costs.
You can sometimes claim benefits if you have to live away from your parents because you’re at risk or estranged from them.
Find out more from Turn2Us about claiming benefits if you're under 18.
Ongoing help when you turn 18
You count as being 'looked after' or 'in care' if social services give you somewhere to live while you're 16 or 17.
You will usually get help to move into longer term housing when you turn 18.
You have a priority need if you become homeless again while you're still under 21. This means the homeless team must usually help with emergency or longer term housing.
This applies even if you only spend a few days in care while aged 16 or 17. For example, if social services provide you with somewhere to stay but you can then return to your family.
If you're in care for more than 13 weeks, you can get advice and support from social services until your 25th birthday.
You may not qualify for this help if you're only provided with emergency housing by the homeless team while under 18.
Last updated: 28 June 2023