Imagine being 15 years old, alone, with nowhere to go. You ran away from home after your stepfather punched you so hard you blacked out. You slept on a rug in the basement of a building where a friend told you nobody would notice. You had nowhere else to go.. . . until you heard that there was a shelter for teens.
A Safe Place for Homeless and Runaway Teens
A low-barrier state licensed emergency overnight shelter, the Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter offers a safe place for homeless and street-involved youth ages 12 through 20, provides access to a full range of services to assist them in making plans to stay off the street, and coordinates policies as well as individual interventions with Preble Street Teen Center.
“If I was on the streets, I wouldn’t be going to school,” says Shawna, who re-enrolled in school after dropping out when her mother kicked her out of the house.
“Sometimes I don’t like it here. It’s not a home. It’s just a place to sleep; but without the shelter, I’d probably be sleeping outside or in an abandoned building.”
Shawna sits at the large table in the common area. Leaning intently over a list of adjectives she has written—“humorous, bubbly, sociable”—for a school assignment to describe her character. Taking a moment to think she adds three more words in her smooth, careful print: “Independent, hard-working, and strong.”
The Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter is an integral component of Preble Street Teen Services, ensuring a door is open to homeless and runaway teens—around the clock, 365 days a year.
Located in a building across from the Teen Center in downtown Portland, the Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter ensures that homeless youth:
- find a warm welcome 24 hours a day
- are in a safe place for the night
- have their basic needs (food, clothing, hygiene) met
- have quiet space to study or meet with staff
- can participate in informal social and recreational activities
- are connected to skilled staff and appropriate community resources
Housing support staff assess the needs of youth, provide crisis intervention and individual support, make referrals, encourage and facilitate family reunification, supervise informal activities, coordinate with Preble Street and its collaborative partners to address client needs, interests, and challenges, and—most important—provide a trustworthy, respectful, and caring space where youth can begin to heal and grow and dream.