The Home's News

Youth on Fire Joins The Home for Little Wanderers

Youth on Fire photo
            Photo of Youth on Fire’s lobby (Courtesy of Youth on Fire)

The Home for Little Wanderers, the nation’s oldest child welfare agency, is expanding its portfolio of services and programs by accepting ownership of Youth on Fire, a drop-in center that provides food, housing, health services and referrals to unhoused and street-involved youth. Obtaining Youth on Fire from Fenway Health, its former parent organization, enhances the existing supports The Home provides for young adults in at-risk situations, says Lesli Suggs, President and CEO for The Home.

“Youth on Fire has a long and proven track record of serving as an open and necessary front door for young adults who have no other place to go,” Suggs said. “In a high-cost-of-living city like ours, it’s vital that we keep those doors open and support our children until they can stand on their own.”

Formerly under the management of Fenway Health, the center is in a transition period and will re-open under the same name and at the same location, 1 Church St. in Cambridge, on July 8. No impact to service is expected upon reopening. Members and visitors will be able to contact their providers in all the usual ways.

“Because The Home shares our passion for supporting and empowering youth, we look forward to embarking on this new chapter together,” said Mandy Lussier, site manager for Youth on Fire. “This is an opportunity for both organizations to amplify the work we’ve been doing in the community and to continue to show up for the youth we serve. I’m incredibly optimistic about our bright future.”

On any given night, there are nearly 400 unaccompanied youth and young adults who are unhoused – often because their homes are unsafe, unsupportive, or nonexistent. These estimates do not include those fleeing or attempting to flee dangerous situations, like domestic violence or sex trafficking. Physical, medical, and mental supports that Youth on Fire provides are critical to not only helping youth in and out of vulnerable situations, but also preventing them from being chronically unhoused in the future.

Established in 2000, Youth on Fire provides on-site hot meals, clothing, showers, and laundry facilities, as well as health screenings, medical care, mental health counseling, enrollment in health insurance, and referrals to other self-identified needs. The organization, which is largely funded by the Department of Public Health and the City of Cambridge, serves more than 200 young adults each year and has served more than 3,000 members since its opening.