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

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

Find a place to stay

If you’re aged 16 or 17 the social services department at your council can help you.

Social services should find you a temporary place to stay while they work out what help you need. They'll check to see if you can return home but can’t force you to go back if you don’t feel safe there.

They can give you support and find you somewhere to stay if:

  • you can't return home and have nowhere else to live
  • you’re staying with friends or another family and have been asked to leave
  • your home is unsafe for you (for example, because you're at risk of violence or abuse)

Contact your council and ask to speak to a duty social worker. Find contact details for your local council on GOV.UK.

If you go to the council's housing department

You can ask the council's housing department for help. They must:

  • provide emergency accommodation 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 housing department may not be able to help if you don't meet immigration and residence conditions.

What you could 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 shouldn't be housed in bed and breakfast when you're 16 or 17 even if it's an emergency.

You should accept what the council offers you even if you don’t want to stay there. You might not get further help if you turn it down. Get advice if you are in this situation. You can ask the council to look at its decision again.

You should not be left without anywhere to stay if you're under 18 and homeless.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Help with rent and living costs

Social services must usually help you with living costs (including rent). You can't usually get benefits if social services are helping 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.

Turn2Us have information about claiming benefits when you're under 18

Support if social services help you for 13 weeks

If social services provide you with accommodation because you're homeless while you are 16 or 17, you're classed as being 'in care'.

Once you've been in care for 13 weeks, social services should continue to provide advice and support under a 'pathway plan' until your 25th birthday. This may include housing during holidays if you go to university.

Help 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.

Help if you’re over 18

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

If you're aged 18-20 and  become homeless after you've left care, you have an automatic priority need for housing.


Last updated - 03 Apr 2018

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