Preble Street to count homeless youth

PORTLAND – Preble Street, a service and advocacy organization, has organized agencies in seven counties across Maine to conduct a first-ever runaway and homeless youth count during the week of May 18.

"This will be one of the most comprehensive counts of homeless and runaway youth undertaken anywhere in the nation, and perhaps the first to take place in a largely rural state," said Jon Bradley, Preble Street associate director.

Working with local partners in each of the seven participating counties, Preble Street will reach out to schools, law enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services and other community resources to find people aged 20 and under who are not staying with parents or guardians and remain unstably housed or at risk.

Local partners are New Beginnings in Androscoggin and Franklin counties and the Rumford Group Homes in Oxford County.

"Because there are only three youth shelters in Maine, many youth find alternative ways of surviving when away from guardians including staying with friends or couch surfing, sleeping out or finding abandoned properties," Bradley said.

A 30-question survey will gather information from each youth counted. Results will be analyzed to provide Maine government officials with specific recommendations for decreasing the number of homeless and runaway youths in the state.