As of Sunday, May 16 Preble Street assumed operations of the 44 bed Quarantine and Temporary Wellness Shelters in Lewiston that have been run by Community Concepts Inc. (CCI) since early 2020. Many CCI shelter staff will continue their positions as Preble Street employees.
“The critically important role of emergency shelters has never been more evident than over the last year,” said Mark Swann, Executive Director at Preble Street. “CCI staff have done a remarkable job managing the Lewiston shelters, and we’re looking forward to working with them to continue providing this critical resource.”
Like the Quarantine Shelter and Temporary Wellness Shelter Preble Street has managed in Greater Portland since last year, these two efforts will be operated in close partnership with MaineHousing, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other local partner organizations.
“These efforts get to the very essence of what COVID-19 has required of us — to think creatively and act quickly,” said Daniel Brennan, Director of MaineHousing. “This work is vital to Maine’s public health response to COVID-19. These shelters have saved lives, protected crucial healthcare resources and supported local businesses. We’re grateful to the City of Lewiston, Preble Street, Community Concepts, Lewiston’s business community, and many others for their continued commitment to providing shelter for people in need.”
Before the pandemic, Preble Street was responsible for 64 shelter beds in Portland. Today the agency is responsible for 300 beds throughout the state of Maine, with 40 more opening once construction is complete on the new Wellness Shelter in Portland.
Last April, the State called on Preble Street to open a Quarantine Shelter at a local hotel, which was implemented immediately. This shelter has served more people who are housed than people experiencing homelessness — including people in extremely crowded housing, group home residents and their caregivers, and New Mainers. Soon after the Quarantine Shelter opened, Preble Street also answered the call to operate a Temporary Wellness Shelter in the area for people experiencing homelessness. Combined, these 24/7 spaces have provided shelter to over 450 individuals and have the capacity to serve up to 105 people per night.
The Veterans Administration also turned to Preble Street last Spring, asking the agency to provide emergency housing in hotels for veterans and their families. This effort has been in operation for over a year. On a recent single night in 2021, Preble Street sheltered 72 veteran families in 10 different counties in Maine in emergency housing.
“Working closely with the state, local hospitals, behavioral health systems, and the corrections system, we have constantly expanded and evolved to meet the needs of the people and communities we serve,” remarked Swann. “Shelters are an important part of the public health infrastructure in this state and are key to the community’s health, not just the health of the people staying there.”
In addition to shelters, Preble Street currently has offices in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor, and provides services statewide to support and empower people experiencing problems related to homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty.