November is Youth Homelessness Month

“I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Teen Center.” Tricia 

After the last Point in Time count in January 2022, there were 3455 people experiencing homelessness in Maine and approximately 30% of that population was under the age of 24. Homeless youth experience higher levels of human trafficking, interpersonal violence, suicide, untreated mental health and substance use disorders, and trauma than their housed peers. In fact, 85% of Maine homeless youth report having had adverse childhood experiences (trauma). 

There are countless reasons why young people experience homelessness. Intergenerational poverty, lack of affordable housing, family instability, and multi-systems involvement for young people who may have been involved in the foster care system and the juvenile justice system are just a few of the reasons. Some young people are victims of human trafficking. Some youth struggle with mental health and substance use disorders. Many are running away from violent or abusive situations. There are a disproportionately high number of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ who are experiencing homelessness. There are also young people who are fleeing their countries of origin due to war, political turmoil or violence. Each story may be different, but most, if not all, of these young people have experienced extreme trauma. 

Part of the work that happens at Preble Street Teen Services is to break the cycle of homelessness and to teach the skills required for young people to have a different path for themselves moving forward. Youth and young adults need an integrated system of care and safety. Preble Street Teen Services provides low-barrier access to shelter, food, basic needs, casework, mental health supports, education and employment services, and a variety of housing options for youth experiencing homelessness.  

“I first started going down to the Teen Center and their overnight shelter when I was 11,” Tricia shared recently on the Neighbors in Need Portland Radio Group show. “And I grew up down there, I was in and out of foster care homes…but in the end, it was troubleshooting the Teen Center that helped me to get off the streets when I didn’t have the skills to do it myself. So, I think that’s what gets overlooked and probably makes them so important because as a parent now, I know how important it is for me to show up for my kids. Even or especially when they don’t want us to and staff at the Teen Center was there for me, that’s what those staff were for me. They were consistent and without judgment. And while it might not have been traditional parental love, it was unconditional, and they always looked out for my best interest. I mean, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Teen Center.” 

How can you make a difference?

  • Calling all landlords! Landlords willing to work with Teen Housing Services and other Preble Street programs are a key part of the solution and can learn about the financial incentives of these partnerships by visiting or emailing  

  • Become a volunteer! Our dedicated volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization. Each day, they put on their aprons, smiles, and endless enthusiasm to serve nutritious meals at our Teen Shelter. Whether it’s a hearty dinner or a comforting breakfast, these meals offer more than just nourishment – they provide a sense of belonging and a reminder that they are cared for.

    As we serve meals, we also serve hope, love, and opportunity. Together, let’s continue cooking up a recipe for change. Your support, be it through volunteering or spreading awareness, is the secret ingredient that makes our mission possible.

    We invite you to join our amazing team of volunteers at the Teen Center. Just a few hours of your time can make a world of difference in a young person’s life. Please note: all Teen Center volunteers are required to undergo a background check. The process is straightforward, but it takes approximately 6 weeks from the time of application to the first volunteer shift. Sign up to become a volunteer here!

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Teen Services Expands Housing and Outreach Programs to Biddeford

Guy Gagnon, Biddeford Housing Authority Executive Director, and Hailey Virusso, Preble Street Director of Teen Housing and Outreach Services discuss the vision for the new transitional housing units for youth experiencing homelessness. For six years, Preble Street’s First Place Transitional Living Program, part of its Teen Housing Services programming, has provided low-barrier housing for youth

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Youth homelessness and the right to education

A lack of housing shouldn’t be a barrier to the right to education.  Whether they’re couch surfing with friends, sleeping in a car, hotel, or motel, or staying at a shelter, at least 15,000 youth and young adults experience homelessness each year in Maine. Thankfully, schools are federally mandated by The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act

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Teen Housing and Outreach: Curbside

18-year-old Austin currently spends his nights at the Preble Street Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter or outside on the streets. “I was emancipated at 16 to get away from my family. I lived with friends for about a year and a half. When I turned 18, their parents were like ‘Ok, time to be an adult,

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10 Things to Know about Youth Homelessness in Maine

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Educate yourself and your community about the issue of youth homelessness and what we can do to end it in Maine!  In 2023, at least 1,500 youth and young adults experienced the tragedy of homelessness; in fact, more than 30% of Maine’s homeless population is under the age of

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250 youth work to reclaim their lives

We meet incredible young people through our programs — youth who, against all odds, overcome barriers and circumstances most of us could not imagine and work to reclaim their lives. Clients are the experts of their own experiences and caseworkers support them in setting and achieving their goals of independence, stability, and safety. Each of

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Youth homelessness: a call to community action

Since last month’s highlight on youth homelessness in Maine, the Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter has reached maximum capacity several days in a row for the first time in over three years. Preble Street will never turn a minor youth away, and while at maximum capacity, staff are working with community partners and youth 18 and

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