Mark Swann ’84 Champions the Fight Against Homelessness in Down East

“Housing first,” a revolutionary concept for ending homelessness, offers safe, permanent housing to the chronically homeless as a first resort rather than a last-ditch effort, and then provides the services they need to treat mental illness, addictions and physical ailments.

Logan Place, a collaboration between Avesta Housing and the social service agency Preble Street, is the only housing-first project in Maine and one of only a few in New England.

The project is the focus of the article, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” in the November 2009 issue of Down East magazine, which highlights the role of Mark Swann ’84, Preble Street’s executive director and the 2001 recipient of the Common Good Award.

In 1991, Swann accepted a position at Preble Street, and working with social activists, business leaders, public officials, politicians, the faith community, and the organization’s consumers, led a collaborative effort to build a comprehensive center for people experiencing homelessness.

That early learning experience was instrumental to Swann’s leadership in the significant and innovative growth of Preble Street’s services over the past 18 years.

What began as one small shelter now includes not only extensive food and lodging support with connected medical and social services for homeless citizens of Portland, but also a teen center for homeless youth, several permanent housing communities, and the restaurant and cooking school Stone Soup, which provides vocational training and an income for Preble Street’s consumers.