STORIES

Austin’s Story

When he first shared his story in the fall of 2022, Austin was spending his nights at the Preble Street Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter or outside on the streets. But for the past six months, Austin has been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Portland with a roommate and working as much as possible at his job as a dishwasher to save up for the next step.

“I want to keep moving up in the housing department,” shares Austin. “I want to get from our one-bedroom to a two-bedroom and then just keep leveling up until we can get a loan or a down payment on the house or even a small trailer. I want to be able to get stable.”

Preble Street Teen Services helps young people break the cycle of homelessness by providing young people with the skills and support necessary to create a different path for themselves moving forward.

“Right as I became homeless, I had all my stuff stolen, including all my paperwork. I wouldn’t have been able to get my housing without birth certificates and a social security card. This paperwork seems so mundane but then when you need it, it’s so important,” says Austin. “Before I was homeless, I didn’t know a single thing about what it would be like. I didn’t know where homeless shelters were; I didn’t know how to apply for vouchers; I didn’t know where I could get clothes. Preble Street helped me with literally every single thing to get my health insurance and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits figured out.”

Austin was emancipated at 16 to get away from his family and spent the next year and a half living with friends and their families. When he was 18, he lost the support of these families and became homeless.

There are countless reasons why a young person might experience homelessness. Intergenerational poverty, lack of affordable housing, family instability or abusive situations, 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. There are a disproportionately high number of youths 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.

“Honestly, I’m going to just keep busting my butt at work,” Austin shares when asked what his plans for the future are. “I know if I stay consistent, I’ll be able to move up someday to a position that pays more, and then I can get a better place to live. I see a future no matter what else is going on. I’m just going to look ahead and try to set a goal for that future.”

More than 350 young people across Maine receive support from Preble Street Teen Services each year. 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.

 

Ron’s Story

“I’ll say it 1000 times over, the VA saved my life,” shares Ron. Ron is a former U.S. Marine. He currently lives at a residential facility in Lewiston, Maine, operated by Veteran’s Inc., a nonprofit that provides support services to Veterans and Veteran families across New England. They are a trusted partner of Preble Street, working

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Austin’s Story

When he first shared his story in the fall of 2022, Austin was spending his nights at the Preble Street Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter or outside on the streets. But for the past six months, Austin has been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Portland with a roommate and working as much as possible at

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Larry’s Story

Larry, a U.S. Navy Veteran, has lived in Maine since junior high. Unfortunately, due to rising housing, utility, and food costs, he found himself facing homelessness at age 63. After hearing about Preble Street Veterans Housing Services from a fellow Veteran and friend, he decided to reach out. “I got Kate as my case manager,

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