PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Advocates for Maine’s homeless held a noontime rally in Portland to increase awareness and gain support. Members of Homeless Voices For Justice, many of whom have experienced homelessness first-hand, called on Mainers to work to provide more affordable housing and eliminate poverty.
“Homelessness is alive and well in urban cities, rural places, all over Maine, other parts of the country, and all over the United States,” stated one of the event’s organizers, Dee Clarke. “As long as there is poverty, there is homelessness.”
“Life is hard enough, you know, but when you have everything you own in a backpack and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from,” said Andrew Hayman, trailing off into another thought. “You get so far down, you don’t know where to turn to.”
Organizers chose the summer solstice to hold the rally because they say it marks the longest day of the year, and therefore the longest day to be homeless. They say use of shelters and soup kitchens is on the rise, and while people take notice around the holidays and during cold weather, the problem does not go away because the temperatures are warmer.
“The only answer to ending and preventing homelessness is housing,” said Clarke. She says the recent opening of Florence House, a mixed use facility which offers a shelter and permanent housing for women, is a great model for helping people who are chronically homeless, but many families and others do not have options for housing that are suitable.