Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Homeless Children And Squatting Survey

Squall 5, Oct/Nov 1993, pg. 25.

Centrepoint SOHO, a housing charity and hostel catering for young homeless people, have recently published the results of a survey of its hostel residents, which shows an alarming trend in un-cared for homeless children.

They found that 63% of the youngsters in their survey had at one time squatted and were most likely to have been the 16 and 17 year olds that are supposed to be given local authority care under the Children’s Act. Forty three percent, including many of the young squatters, had previously been in local authority care which, for some reason, had not been continued.

“It is a bitter irony that many of these children should have been looked after by the local authorities according to the law, but instead ended up squatting in empty local authority property," said Radiance Strathdee, a researcher at Centrepoint.

According to Ms Strathdee, social service departments (SSDs) often claim that they do not have the housing stock to cater for the number of homeless children in their borough. However, the Children’s Act places a corporate responsibility on all council departments to look after these children, not just the SSDs. This means that housing should be made available by the housing department, even if the social services department do not have the available stock themselves.

“The truth is that councils will avoid the responsibility of looking after a child if possible, because it entails many responsibilities other than just housing them,” continues Strathdee. “The result is that squatting becomes a safety net for them and criminalising squatting will mean even more young people banging on the doors of SSDs.”