Protests continue outside Portland DHHS over move

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Advocates for the poor continue to protest the decision to move the state’s Department of Health and Human Services office out of downtown Portland.

Senator Justin Alfond joined members of Homeless Voices For Justice outside of the DHHS offices in Portland Wednesday morning. The move would take the DHHS office from its current location on Marginal Way to a site in South Portland near the airport, about four miles by bus from downtown. The lease on the current building runs out at the end of this year. Governor Paul LePage has said the move will save the state more than $20 million over the course of a 30 year lease. But protesters say it will make it difficult for people who need services to access them.

“It’s just another barrier,” Patty Fitzpatrick said. “There is so many people in the city who have nothing. They are dealing with homelessness, substance abuse problems, mental health issues, and maybe for some people it would be an inconvenience to take a bus to South Portland. For a lot of people it’s just an impossibility.”

The group says they will continue to protest every Wednesday in front of the Portland DHHS building.