Homeless youth in New Mexico, especially those under 18, face unique barriers to housing and services. “Even if there are kids just running away, there’s a reason they’re running away,” said Maya Fern, 22, a youth outreach coordinator for the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. Fern lived on the streets from 14 to 18 after fleeing abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend.
New Mexico consistently ranks toward the bottom among states for child welfare. In an under-resourced state with an overburdened system, a tight-knit group of nonprofit service providers have had to get creative to fill the gaps.
LGBTQ+ youth experience homelessness at significantly higher rates than their peers. In Albuquerque, New Mexico's only shelter specifically for queer young people provides a safe space for this vulnerable and exploited population to thrive.