Shedding light on homelessness on one of the longest days of the year

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — There’s a stigma that comes with the term “homeless;” a misunderstanding for most about what it actually means.

Advocates for the homeless spent time in the Old Port on one of the longest days of the year to help shed more light on the daily struggles of living on the streets.

“Homelessness happens to real people, not just facts and figures,” said Jim Devine, an advocate with Homeless Voices for Justice. “It’s real people out on the street; it’s real people staying at the shelter every night; it’s real people sleeping out in the campsites.”

Devine had a career as a master electrician, but says alcohol brought his world to a stop. He now advocates for better resources for those in recovery.

He was joined on Tuesday by Judy Newell. “I did all the right things, went to all the right schools, got good grades, went to college,” Newell said about her own path to homelessness. “Sometimes life gets in the way.”

Both want people to understand that it can happen to anyone, so they share their stories to anyone willing to stop and listen.

“This is our community as a whole, whether you live in a nice house or not, we’re all people and we all deserve respect.”

Advocates encouraged people who stopped to jot down what homelessness means to them. They also spoke about Portland’s housing crisis, encouraging people to learn more about how to help.

If you’re interested in helping, this is a good place to start.