Portland homeless shelters at full capacity

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — On an average night last September, 500 people were staying at Portland homeless shelter — a record-breaking month for the city.

Portland shelters are at full capacity, looking for overflow spaces and housing solutions for the growing homeless population.

At Preble Street, they’re seeing an increase in elderly clients, many with serious medical conditions.

According to Chief Program Officer Donna Yellen, one third of the women are elderly. One woman staying with them is nine months pregnant.

“Maine is the oldest state in the country, and it’s embarrassing that many of our elderly and frail are in our homeless shelters,” said Yellen.

Preble Street’s new Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter is also at full capacity.

At the nearby Oxford Street Shelter, Director Josh O’Brien says they are seeing an increase in homeless families, instead of individuals.

O’Brien said mid-October, he sends his staff to the streets to try and gather anyone trying to tough it out instead of seeking shelter.

“Particularly on those cold nights, blustery nights…we add additional teams out there to make sure everyone is coming in,” said O’Brien.

Even though shelters are operating at full capacity, both O’Brien and Yellen said they continue to work with the city to accomodate with overflow space, while seeking housing solutions.