MaineHousing will receive $3.3 million in federal funding as part of a program designed to reduce youth homelessness.

Maine experienced a 30 percent increase in youth homelessness from 2014 to 2017. The state’s housing authority was one of 23 awardees announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The total of $75 million in funding, an increase from $43 million last year, for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program will help communities build local systems to develop housing options for young people.

“The solutions to youth homelessness that are being built and tested through HUD’s YHDP program represent community collaboration at its best,” Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, said in a statement. “We are confident that these communities, and their Youth Action Boards, will help lead us along the path to end youth homelessness in our country.”

In Maine, the funding will be allocated through MaineHousing. The agency that will develop the program is New Beginnings in Lewiston.

“We are excited about receiving this grant and the opportunities it presents for Maine’s youth,” said Chris Bicknell, New Beginnings’ executive director. “The partnerships this will create – and the voice that it will give youth who have been or who are homeless – is truly what we need to prevent and respond to youth homelessness.”

Maine’s grant will support the creation of a Coordinated Community Response to end and prevent youth homelessness, with an emphasis on improving and increasing access to services in rural communities. After the Coordinated Community Response is created, nonprofit and government agencies will have an opportunity to apply for subgrants to create new programs.

Maine has seen a dramatic rise in the number of students who have experienced homelessness, according to the Department of Education.

As the Press Herald reported in May, the number of homeless students in Maine – including those who are on their own as well as those living with a parent or guardian – rose 30 percent from 2014 to 2017, going from 1,934 students to 2,515.

That’s the highest number of homeless students the state has ever recorded.

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