People protest against Portland’s planned cuts to homeless shelters

PORTLAND, Maine -Protesters in Portland were demonstrating Tuesday at City Hall, demanding the city reconsider a plan to cut resources to homeless shelters.

Protesters were chanting and sharing their experiences.

Beginning July 1, city officials are planning to cut overflow space and stop placing homeless families in area motels when the shelters are full.

A state audit resulted in the state pulling funding from Portland shelters.

“Well, when they say that, tell Mayor Brennan to come up. We’ll talk about it. If he follows the rules, there’s no reason to cut back,” Republican Gov. Paul LePage said.

Portland officials said they have not mismanaged funds.

The public comment part of the public safety meeting Tuesday lasted two hours and City Councilor Justin Costa said the speakers were overwhelmingly opposed to the cut.

Before the meeting, homeless advocates set up 75 beds to represent some of the people who will be forced to sleep outside if officials follow through on cutting services.

“We know that homelessness is life-threatening, and we know that people die on the streets and we’re trying to do everything we can to prevent that,” said Donna Yellen of Preble Street.

“It’s certainly nothing anybody should have to do if they don’t want to do especially if they have children in tow. You know? If the shelter shuts down, what’s your alternative? There’s no alternative,” said homeless advocate Jim Devine.