The Maine Committee on Health and Human Services is considering a number of bills that would provide more aid to facilities for homeless youth.
There are only three shelters throughout the state that serve homeless youth, including the Shaw House in Bangor which has helped homeless youth throughout the pandemic. Resources for youth shelters are often stretched thin and facilities can not always provide the support services that young people need.
LD 1076 would increase the funding available to address issues that homeless youth face from $2 million a year to $2.5 million.
LD 81 would extend the period that homeless youth are allowed to stay at shelters to 90 days. Current regulations allow homeless youth to stay at shelters for 30 consecutive days while searching for permanent housing options.
Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order in April 2020 that allowed homeless youth to remain at shelters for up to 60 consecutive days, but it will revert back to 30 days once the State of Civil Emergency order is lifted.
Cullen Ryan of Community Housing of Maine told the committee that extending the duration that homeless youth can stay in shelters is an important aspect of crisis mitigation.
“Extending the allowable length of stay in youth shelters is critical, as it will better allow engagement with youth experiencing homelessness to attain a feeling of safety and security, as well as access to important supportive services and positive reconnections with their families, where possible,” Ryan said.
In 2020, the report on homelessness from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that youth homelessness had increased in Maine by 11 percent since 2019.