When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Help with homelessness if you're under 18

Ask Social Services or the Housing Executive for help if you are under 18 and have nowhere safe to live.

Contact us first if you're worried about using these services.

After you ask for help

Ask Social Services or the Housing Executive for help. These agencies will work together to make sure that you have a safe space to live. They will look at different options, including

  • whether it is safe for you to return to your last home
  • if there's anything they can do to make your home safe
  • whether there are any other adults you know that you can safely live with.

Your needs must come first. You should not have to go back to a place that isn't safe for your mental or physical health.

Call our advisers if you aren't getting the help you need.

Help if you can't stay at home

Social Services will do an assessment of your needs. It's called a UNOCINI assessment. This stands for Understanding the Needs of Children in Northern Ireland. 

A UNOCINI assessment will look at

  • why you can't live at your last address,
  • what your housing needs are,
  • what your support needs are.

They should do this assessment within 10 working days. They should find you somewhere safe and suitable to stay while the assessment is going on.

Social Services' responsibilities to help young people with housing

Social Services have to find you a safe place to live if you are under 18 and

  • you don’t have anywhere to live or
  • it is not safe or suitable for you to return where you were living or
  • your parent or guardian refuses to let you return.

If you can't return home you are a "child in need". Social Services is now responsible for finding you somewhere to live.

Types of housing used by social services

Social services have different types of housing. This includes

  • foster arrangements with someone you already know
  • foster arrangements with someone you don't know
  • children's homes
  • residential schools and units
  • supported housing.

Your social worker needs to talk to you to find out what the most suitable housing will be. They should

  • find out more about where you want to live
  • make sure they know where you work or study
  • ask where your support networks are.

Your social worker needs to take your thoughts and considerations into account. They may let you live with someone you know if they think this is a safe and suitable arrangement.

Contact our advisers or the Children's Law Centre if you feel like your social worker isn't listening to you.

Other help from social services

You may be able to get other help from social services.

Social Services has a responsibility to keep helping childrena and young people they used to care for. This can include help with education, bills and housing. This responsibility lasts until you are 21. It can last for longer if you are still in education when you turn 21.

The type of help you get depends on how long you spend in care.

Contact VOYPIC if you'd like to know more about how social services should help you. VOYPIC is a charity that works with young people who have experience of being in care.