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 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
  • 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.

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

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

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 emergency 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 a place in a:

  • foster carer's home
  • hostel or foyer
  • shared house with other young people
  • volunteer's home (through a scheme called Nightstop)

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

It's important to accept the housing the council offers you even if you don’t want to stay there. You may not be able to get further help if you turn it down.

If you aren’t offered temporary housing

Contact a Shelter adviser:

Call our emergency helpline

Help with living costs

The children’s services department must usually help you with living costs (including rent) if they have provided you with housing for at least 13 weeks.

You may be able to claim benefits if you have to live away from your parents because you’re at risk or estranged from them. You can't usually get benefits if children's services are helping with your living costs.

Find out more from Citizens Advice about claiming benefits when you’re 16 or 17.

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

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

Once you've been in care for 13 weeks you will also get support from social services up until your 21st birthday (or 25th birthday if you're in education or training). This may include advice, accommodation during holidays if you go to university and cash assistance.

If you become homeless once you've left care and you're aged 18-20 you will have an automatic priority need for housing. If you're 21 or over you might have a priority need if you’re considered ‘vulnerable’.

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?

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone


0800 1111
24 hours
Calls are free

Last updated - 06 Sep 2017

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