Preble Street Shelter Gains More Funding

PORTLAND, Maine — A new donation has given a boost to the Preble Street Resource Center’s effort to make up for funding withdrawn by the Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development withdrew support from "The Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice Program." The diocese said that the shelter violated its grant agreement because of its support of Maine’s "No On One" campaign last fall.

Voters overturned the state’s same-sex marriage law in the November 2009 referendum. A voter’s support for referendum question one meant opposition to same-sex marriage while "No On One" supported it.

Anne Underwood announced at the Equality Maine awards banquet Saturday that Donald Sussman of North Haven donated $17,400 to make up for the for January to June loss.

"This is about righting a wrong," said Sussman. "The Preble Street organization is an angel to those in need. They don’t discriminate in who they help, and we need to support them in their important work. It’s disappointing that funding was lost for this critical work, but I’m glad to be one of many who have joined together to help make things right.

The shelter also got more than $12,000 in donations in three days last week.

Underwood added the shelter also lost $33,000 for the coming financial year and fundraising continues to make up that loss.

Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, received the "Faith In Action" award at the Saturday night event.

"Many Catholics are redirecting the money they were going to give to the bishop’s appeal and to Catholic Charities to the Preble Street shelter," she said.

Underwood said the leading cause of homelessness among the shelter’s teen population is sexual orientation.

Last week, spokeswoman Sue Bernard emphasized the diocese’s commitment to helping people in Maine.

"People are upset. They see the Catholic Church as taking money away from poor people. It is very important to understand, the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the state. We actually help more disadvantged poor people than any other charitable organization in the state," she said.