Act is failing to help homeless teenagers

Nearly a year since the Homelessness Act became law, introducing a
requirement for councils to give priority to 16 and 17 year olds,
many are struggling to find appropriate homes.

As a result agencies in England and Wales are being forced to place
16 and 17 year olds in bed and breakfast accommodation, much of
which is of poor quality, lacks support services, and is sometimes
too distant from family and friends to allow regular contact.

Concerns about the young people’s welfare have been raised by
homelessness charity Centrepoint. A spokesperson for the charity
said that, while the government had made a commitment to ending the
use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families by 2004, except
in emergencies, it had ignored single young people (news, page 6,
15 May 2003).

Housing services manager at Hambleton District Council, Alan Glew,
said there had been an increase in the number of young people
seeking help since the act was introduced.

But he added that many housing associations and private landlords
were reluctant to give them tenancies.

“Regrettably, in the absence of accommodation to meet the specific
needs of this client group, temporary accommodation in the form of
B&Bs or hostel accommodation is sought,” he said.

A Welsh housing officer said the “huge issues” around housing
arrangements for 16 and 17 year olds were reflected across the
country and included a “chronic lack of supported housing for young

Other councils warned that some young people who had been placed in
B&Bs were becoming involved in antisocial behaviour because
they were being left without support.

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