It’s not all sleeping rough

It’s common for people to think that all people experiencing homelessness sleep on the streets. But rough sleeping is only a small part of the problem of homelessness. Homelessness is about not having a home, which means not having a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety and the ability to control your living space.

Couch surfing

When a young person becomes homeless (either because they have to leave home or their whole family becomes homeless) they might stay temporarily with friends, family or people they don’t know very well. This is often called ‘couch surfing’, which might sound harmless but, in reality, means you don’t have your own space, privacy or security, it's unstable, and it can also be dangerous.

Most young people who are homeless are living in a ‘severely overcrowded’ house. Often, that means having to crash on the couch or the floor or share a bedroom. A severely overcrowded house is one that needs four or more extra bedrooms to properly house everyone living there.

Other places homeless people stay

Young people’s alternatives to couch surfing are emergency accommodation in refuges, government-funded transitional housing, boarding houses, hostels or motels. Some young people who become homeless might have to sleep rough in squats, cars or public spaces for a period of time.