Maine is seeing a growing number of young people, from preschool through 12th grade, who are homeless or displaced. They are moving into shelters, couch surfing with other families and, in rare cases, camping or living in cars. According to the National Center for Homeless Education the number of homeless youth increased by 30 percent in just two years.
Most afternoons, 18-year-old Mikaylah — she asked that we not use her last name — sits by herself, hunched over a computer or notepad in a back office at New Beginnings, a shelter in Lewiston for youth who are homeless or displaced. Here, she writes stories and letters to help her process what she has experienced over the past few years.
“It gives me more positive memories to all of these traumatic events than what I usually would think about,” she says.
Mikaylah arrived in Maine about three years ago from Connecticut, where she and her sisters had been raised by their single dad. When he passed away, they moved to Biddeford to be with family.