THERE has been a 61 per cent rise in homelessness among young people during the coronavirus crisis.

The number of homeless 16 to 25 year olds in Sussex and Surrey has soared as pent-up families break up amid the pandemic.

This is according to the charity YMCA DownsLink Group, which provides supported accommodation and housing advice.

It said since March, the number of young people needing its services has risen by almost two thirds against the same time last year.

And the charity expects the new “rule of six” restriction will make matters worse.

A spokeswoman said: “Living closely together – sometimes in cramped conditions, or with older people who need to be shielded – is leading to intergenerational tension.

“The new ‘rule of 6’ is likely to increase this. Family breakdown is now a major factor of homelessness in young people.”

Young people’s mental health has also been a major problem under lockdown, and the charity said every week it has seen more emergency cases, where young people have been evicted that day and have nowhere else to go.

The charity’s boss Chas Walker said: “Covid is going to affect the longer term stability of our communities.

“We are only just starting to see its social impact especially on those who are already marginalised.”

There has been a decrease in evictions from rented accommodation after a temporary ban amid the pandemic, but the charity is bracing itself for an increase when those restrictions are lifted.

Under lockdown, the charity has kept its accommodation open and is housing more than 750 vulnerable young people every night.

It is also increasing the number of mediators, who work with families to prevent young people ending up with nowhere to live.

But it is now struggling for funding.

Mr Walker said: “After ten years of government austerity policies, our public funding for this work only covers the very basics.”

To compound the problem, the charity had to cancel its annual Sleep Easy fundraising event earlier this year.

Mr Walker said: “Due to coronavirus, we had to postpone our mass participation Sleep Out event.

“So we have given it a stylish makeover to ensure it’s an accessible, inclusive and safe event that anyone can take part in.

“Instead of meeting up, the new challenge on October 9 is to spend the night sleeping somewhere other than your bed, with your ‘bubble’ or on your own.

“Just grab a sleeping bag and sleep anywhere you like, your garden, hallway, lounge or any other safe space. The money raised will help fund our services which tackle the root causes of youth homelessness, including our vital family mediation service.”

In the past, people have raised an average of £200 each and the charity hopes this year’s event will raise £50,000.

To join in, sign up at

To donate, visit