Portland shelter for addicts turns dozens away
A Portland facility that has long served as an emergency shelter for addicts is now forced to turn dozens away because of federal changes. The Milestone Foundation on India Street had 18 medical beds for clients seeking detox services, as well as 41 emergency shelter beds. But within the last two weeks, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid changed the facility’s classification from a Private Non-Medical Institution to an Institution for Mental Diseases. In order to continue receiving federal funding, Milestone had to reduce its number of treatment beds to 16, and cut all of its shelter beds.
The changes left city officials scrambling to find a temporary solution. For now, homeless addicts will be able to go to the Oxford Street shelter during the afternoons, and spend the nights at the Preble Street community center. Milestone workers and the city’s homeless outreach workers will extend their hours to make sure those who once stayed at India Street make it over to the new accommodations. The director of Portland’s Department of Health and Human Services Doug Gardner says he does worry that some people will fall through the cracks, despite the city’s best efforts. Gardner says the changes place an extra burden on already strained resources. According to Gardner, homelessness in Portland has been on the rise over the past 18 months.