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Maine Groups Getting More Than $3M To Combat Youth Homelessness

Four organizations in Maine will receive more than $3 million to launch new programs to address youth homelessness — particularly in rural Maine.

Chris Bicknell is with Lewiston's New Beginnings youth shelter, which worked to secure the federal funding. He says the money will allow organization to pilot several new strategies, including one that would provide youth with both housing vouchers and support services.

"It's a much more robust approach to helping young people get into their first apartment, maintain that first apartment, build the skills they need to move from being in a subsidy situation to being independent," he says.

He says the funds will also support a "host home" pilot program, which would allow youth to stay in the home of a member of their community, instead of being forced to move to a shelter in a city like Portland or Bangor.

"They can be in a home that's been vetted by a provider, with supervision and oversight, from a provider that works with young people, predominantly. So it allows them to stay in their community of origin, keep their natural supports, stay in their school of origin, and move forward there. Rather than having to migrate to one of the urban centers to receive shelter and services," he says.

Bicknell says the new projects are only the first steps as part of a larger statewide plan to reduce youth homelessness.

Groups receiving funding include the Aroostook County Action Program and Preble Street in Portland.