Why young people experience the worst of the housing crisis

Leonie at the South Bank. Picture: Centre for Homelessness Impact

The data shows that young people are often the group most likely to experience homelessness. Tom Kerridge of youth homeless support charity, Centrepoint, calls for a reinvigorated social rented sector.

Centrepoint Databank statistics show that in 2022, more than 112,000 young people in England approached their local authority for homelessness prevention or relief, an 8% rise on 2021.

In London, the rate of youth homelessness has also risen: going from just over 15,000 to 18,000 – a 20% increase. These rate increases, however, are not reflected in the level of housing support allocated to members of this cohort.

Tom Kerridge: “Build a lasting coalition”

Assuming that the majority of young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness require temporary or permanent subsidised housing, allocation rates for 16–25s have failed to meet demand.

Young people often miss out on social housing

In 2020–2021, for example, just 2% of total local authority and 3.1% of housing association social tenancies were allocated to young people. Only 18% of new general needs social housing was provided to this group.

These data sets show that young people regularly experience the worst of the country’s housing crisis. Unless afforded priority status by local authorities, young people are frequently locked out of England’s already limited social housing sector.

This can mean that they have to turn to the unaffordable private rental sector, live in temporary accommodation or risk homelessness.

“Government, housing providers and charities must provide genuinely affordable housing options for young people.”

To address these issues, government, housing providers and charities must work together to develop strategies aimed at providing genuinely affordable housing options for young people and enabling those living in housing to make the most of tenancies.

However, no one organisation can achieve these goals. Rather, we must build a lasting coalition that aims to reinvigorate the social rented sector and deliver new, youth-specific housing products.

These are products that clear blockages in housing pathways and empower young people to lead meaningful lives such as Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme or St Basils Live and Work scheme.

Dr Tom Kerridge is Policy and Research Manager at Centrepoint. This article is included in Affordable Housing: Overcoming crisis through collaboration, which can be downloaded here.

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