COVINGTON, Ky. -- Teen homelessness is a reality for some in Northern Kentucky, and many affected by it find it hard to enjoy the holidays without a home. That's why the Brighton Center's Homeward Bound Shelter works so hard to make them feel welcome.
"Families stress over holidays, things break up," Brighton Center community and youth services director Katie Arthur said.
Several issues can lead to teenagers ending up on the street, including drugs, finances and domestic violence.
"A lot of times they might be, as we say, an argument away from being homeless," Arthur said.
Covington's Homeward Bound shelter is a safe places for homeless children ages 11 and up. They have living spaces, activity rooms and a kitchen where the staff cooks, but they can only care for 250 kids a year.
"Our biggest fear is you have, in Northern Kentucky, it's estimated over 7,000 kids that are homeless," Arthur said.
To reach more, the Brighton Center is hitting the road by bike.
"Kids are not trusting, which is why we use bikes, why we use that kind of approach where we're out where they are," Arthur said.
The outreach riders also carry bags filled with items that the teenagers will need: Things like socks, hats, gloves and toiletries.
"They learned to identify us," Homeward Bound Shelter manager Dawn Carson said. "We're out on the bikes, they know who we are."
The shelter was recently awarded a three-year health and human services grant which will add $142,000 a year to their operating budget.
"With this grant and having three people dedicated to it, we know we can reach a lot more kids and have a lot more kids in safe situations," Arthur said.
The Homeward Bound Shelter is the only homeless shelter for teens in Northern Kentucky. It's also the only walk-in center for homeless youth in the state of Kentucky. Its staff said they've never turned away a child in need.