PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — As of midnight Tuesday, the Milestone Foundation must downsize its shelter for people with substance abuse issues.
That means Monday night it will not be accepting many of it’s shelter regulars. Milestone and other programs were told they would lose federal Medicaid funding if they didn’t cut their beds to 16 by November 1st.
Milestone has had to do away with more than 40-beds and that has sent advocates for the homeless scrambling to find a place to put those people.
In the corner of the of the Preble Street Cafeteria mats have been set up for a make shift shelter.
A major concern is that people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol who usually go to Milestone, will be mixed in with other homeless people at Preble.
“There will be 75 people max and that means the mats will be 10-inches apart, so there’s not going to be a lot of room for people to be separated. We’re just going to do the best we can”, said Preble Street’s Jon Bradley.
Beyond that concern advocates say there’s a real dangerous situation brewing. They worry people who go to Milestone won’t want to come to the temporary site at Preble, instead opting to tough it out on the streets.
“We’re afraid that folks are going to be confused and fall through the cracks,” Milestone Executive Directo Tom Allan said. “Somebody’s going to end up out in the cold and we’re afraid that people might get lost in the shuffle and die. That’s not something I would say if I wasn’t really afraid that that was going to happen, but that’s sort of our greatest fear.”
Street outreach workers in the Homeless Outreach Mobile Engagement, or H.O.M.E. Team van will extend their hours later into the night. There will also be another van outside Milestone to transport people to Preble Street.
Milestone is asking anyone in downtown Portland who sees a member of the homeless community who appears to be highly intoxicated or in distress to call a member of the H.O.M.E. Team.