BANGOR– Surfing may seem like a far fetched idea in the middle of a Maine winter, but many teenagers around the area are doing their own kind of surfing. The movement #Couchesdontcount is the Shaw House’s way of getting teenagers who are couch surfing counted as homeless.
Couch surfing is a risky way of life, and one that many teenagers are living. Dan Fleming, the Housing Navigator for the Shaw house said 50% of the youth they deal with are couch surfing. “Most of the time they don’t know where they’re staying tonight, maybe the next night. For them, long term is two to three days from now. There’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of second guessing. They have zero stability” said Fleming.
The annual homeless count is coming up in the next few months, and couch surfing still isn’t considered one of the criteria needed to be counted as “homeless”. Fleming said “In Maine last year, they found one. We personally knew thirty six people. That’s thirty six people by our standards that are homeless, but aren’t counted as much”.
Some teenagers do anything they can to have a roof over their heads. This is why the Shaw House is starting their movement, #Couchesdontcount to provide resources for those in need, as well as awareness to allow couch surfing to be viewed as homeless.