New research suggests that about 30% of at-risk and vulnerable young people are in unsafe or insecure housing.
The study, funded by the Centre for Housing Research and the Ministry of Youth Development, is a first for New Zealand.
The report says while most vulnerable young people are adequately housed, about 12,000 aged between 17 and 24 are not.
Included in this group are those who have committed crime, are disabled, recovering from mental illness or addictions, are leaving State care, or are mothers or refugees.
Some may live in places where they are exposed to crime, abuse, gangs or drug-making; their housing may be unaffordable, overcrowded or dilapidated; or they may live on the streets.
The study says inadequate homes compound the problems of these young people, who want more help and more options.