Imagine that you are just 17, 18, or 19 years old. You’ve had to leave home as your parents are struggling with their own mental health issues and it is not safe for you to stay there. You have no other support system and have just lost any sense of stability and safety you once had. It’s November in Maine, and you need to find a way to survive.
November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, a time to shine a light on a largely invisible problem in our communities — youth homelessness. Teens and young adults fall into homelessness for a wide variety of reasons, and no two stories are the same. Did you know:
- 30% of Maine’s homeless population was under the age of 24 in 2020
- Youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their peers
- Young people experiencing poverty have a 162% higher risk of homelessness
- The child welfare and mental health systems in Maine struggle do not have adequate placements for youth, leading to unnecessary placements at juvenile justice facilities or homelessness
- Runaway and homeless youth are among the most high-risk populations for human trafficking
While these facts are devastating, there are substantial efforts happening in Maine to address the issue.
Preble Street Teen Services provides low-barrier access to shelter, food, basic needs, casework, mental health supports, education and employment services, and myriad housing options for youth experiencing homelessness between the ages of 12-24 in Maine. We are proud to work with other youth-serving organizations throughout Maine to provide mobile outreach services to rapidly resolve episodes of homelessness for youth. We are proud to be able to provide multiple pathways to housing through transitional living and rapid re-housing programs. Mostly, we are proud to work alongside young people who are the experts of their own experiences and to support them toward their goals of independence, stability, and safety.