As a result of the national budget for 2008, efforts to combat homelessness among youth has been a prioritised area for the Norwegian State Housing Bank (NSHB).
24% of the homelessness were 24 years or younger at the time of the survey in 2008. This is the highest amount and percentage homelessness youth ever out of the surveys carried out from 1996 to 2008. As a rule of thumb, homelessness youth don't attend school or have a job. Being homeless can worsen or create substance abuse problems, psychological and behavioural problems and lead to more crime, in a short period of time. Therefore early intervention is the key for young people when they become homeless.
Homeless youth don't seek help from the authorities in the same way as adults. Youth tend to spend the night on any available sofas, and many aren't concerned enough about their situation to seek help. At the same time their problems tend to increase drastically.
The NSHB's work
When using the NSHB's financial instruments homeless youth should be prioritised. This is both the case when it comes to buying a home and the financing of rental housing owned by the municipality. Most youth rent dwellings, and this is also reflected in the NSHB's work in this area. Youth normally stay in permanent housing for only a couple of years, but the right to have safe and adequate housing still applies.
In June 2009 the NSHB presented a study done in co-operation with several directorates looking at how measures for homelessness youth were coordinated. All the youth that were featured in the report had experienced or were in danger of becoming homeless. The report provided a good picture of what challenges this group of youth faced and included suggestions for what could be done in this area.
In 2010-2011 five regional conferences entitled "Together for youth" will be held. All parties dealing with homeless youth regionally and locally will be invited. These conferences are a mix of presentations of research material as well as an arena where good practices for everyday use are shared. The importance of interdisciplinary research is stressed.
The Norwegian Directorate for children, youth and families have the overall responsibility for these conferences. The NSHB has organised the first conference and will participate in working groups for the rest of these conferences.
The interdisciplinary working group mentioned above went on a fact-finding mission to Aberdeen in order to find out more about Aberdeen Foyer. The Aberdeen Foyer is a successful local charitable organisation working to prevent and alleviate youth homelessness and unemployment. The foyer provides supported accommodation, access to a range of services such as education, training and employment opportunities as well as community health services for young people and their community. See www.aberdeenfoyer.com