PORTLAND – The pelting rain and ankle-deep puddles may have kept the crowd small in Monument Square on Friday, but it was perfect weather to demonstrate the plight of the city’s homeless residents.
Preble Street, which provides services to the homeless and poor, held a rally calling on people to help end homelessness.
While only a couple of dozen people huddled under umbrellas to watch the event, the soggy conditions helped Preble Street’s staff and volunteers make their point. "People cannot choose which day they are homeless. They are homeless in the rain. They are homeless in the sun," said Amy Regan, a community organizer.
Regan said summer is just as deadly as winter for people who live on the streets. In summer, the number of homeless people increases, as does violence directed at them. On Thursday night this week, there were 288 people staying in Portland’s shelters and another dozen camping out.
Demand for Preble Street’s food services is also up, said Kate Harmsworth, resource development assistant. In 2003, Preble Street served 200 breakfasts a day. This year, the number is 300 a day. In 2003, the agency distributed 130,000 food boxes. So far this year, it has distributed 190,000 food boxes.
"We are seeing an increase in families moving around this time of year. They come to Portland from other cities because it is safer and smaller and more manageable," Regan said.
Francisco Wilson, 51, a native of Nicaragua who moved from Florida to Portland six years ago, said Preble Street helped him during the year when he had no home, and he eventually found the better way of life he had been seeking in Portland.
"This is a blessed place," Wilson said.
Information on how to donate or help at Preble Street, at 18 Portland St., is available by telephone at 775-0026 or online at www.preblestreet.org.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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