August 2012: Young people aged 12 to 24 have the highest rate of homelessness of any group in NSW with 39% of the state’s homeless population under the age of 25. While some are rough sleepers, much youth homelessness constitutes “couch surfing”, living in boarding houses or cycling through emergency accommodation.
Family conflict, violence, mental illness, substance abuse and financial stress are all common causes of youth homelessness. The highest rates of youth homelessness exist among Indigenous and refugee populations. Young people leaving out-of-home care and young people leaving the juvenile justice system are also at particular risk. Homelessness has a severe impact on children and young people, and can contribute to lifelong disadvantage.
When it comes to accessing housing generally, young people face barriers and discrimination. High rental costs, low incomes, insecure share housing, and the lack of affordable housing and public housing stock all make independent living a challenge for many young people.
10, 587 young people were homeless in NSW on census night 2006. Of this number, 20% were in boarding houses, 19% in supported accommodation, 40% residing with friends and relatives and 13% living in improvised dwellings or sleeping rough. Under the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, 52% per cent of users of specialist homelessness services for the December 2011 quarter were aged under 25.