Youth Homelessness

Causes of Youth Homelessness

According to the latest Scottish Government statistics, there were 8,319 young people registered as homeless in Scotland in 2019/2020. This is a concerning figure as it represents almost 26% of the entire Scottish homeless population, even though young people only make 12% of the nation’s total population!

Three main causes consistently make almost 70% of all applications:


Understanding Youth Homelessness

It is important to remember that there are many forms of homelessness, some of them can be very visible such as rough sleeping, other include circumstances where people are living in temporary accommodation (hostels, B&B). However, homelessness also includes what is referred to as hidden homelessness, where young people stay in unsuitable or insecure accommodation, or sofa-surfing with family or friends.

The homelessness route is a negative and stigmatising experience for young people, and it should be avoided whenever possible by early intervention programmes, mediation with the families, suitable affordable accommodation and early-on advice and support.

Youth homelessness is different from adult homelessness and services should recognize that difference. Age, in fact, matters for many reasons. Young people are transitioning from childhood to adulthood, meaning that their emotional, cognitive ad social skills are still developing. These developments will normally be supported by adult supervision and support, both at home and outside.

Unfortunately, young people who become homeless do not fully experience the process of adolescent development, thus leaving home without the necessary skills, the financial support or the experience in running a household. The lack of stability and security will have an impact on young people’s mental and physical health, increasing their chances of being exploited, abused or involved in criminal activities. Furthermore, homelessness can disrupt their education and it will significantly lower their possibilities of finding and keeping a job.

Extensive research highlights that young people with experience of care, from the LGBT community and with ACEs are currently overrepresented within the homelessness community and they are at an increased risk of experiencing homelessness.

Our youth homelessness prevention pathways, commissioned by the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group, will support the implementation of the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan and present recommendations to end youth homelessness in Scotland. 

What Does Homeless Mean?

Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.

Homelessness does not mean roofless and you do not have to be living on the street to be considered homeless. You could be staying with family or friends, or be living in an unsuitable accommodation, and you could still be assessed as homeless.

If you want more information on what youth homelessness is, or if you or someone you know may be at risk of homelessness get in touch