Shelters are a vital part of the public health system – this is true at any time of the year, but especially during these cold winter months. For people who are unsheltered, snow and freezing temperatures bring even greater challenge and uncertainty to their daily lives. To provide additional safeguards for people experiencing homelessness this winter, Preble Street is working on multiple fronts.
We are consistently working to ensure that more people have a safe and warm place to sleep. Preble Street is currently sheltering people at our youth and women’s shelters as well as at hotel shelters throughout the state. We are also under construction for a 40-person Wellness Shelter in Portland which will provide warmth, safety, and intensive services to 40 men and women experiencing homelessness and complex health and behavioral issues who cannot access any other shelter.
Additionally, the Preble Street Street Outreach Collaborative provides outreach services 7 days a week to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Portland and works to connect them to shelter, housing, warm clothing, food, healthcare, and other critical needs (click here for the Street Outreach Collaborative schedule). Staff from Preble Street Health Services, Teen Services, and Veterans Housing Services also do outreach in Portland and throughout Maine to ensure people experiencing homelessness are connected to lifesaving shelter and services.
In preparation for tomorrow’s frigid weather, Preble Street and community partners will open a Warming Station for the day. First Parish Portland Unitarian Universalist Church has graciously agreed to open its doors to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The space will be staffed by staff from several organizations, including Preble Street, and our Food Programs are making extra meals to ensure these clients get fed.
The current lack of shelter and affordable housing in our state is tragic, and the result of a broken system. At the local, state, and federal levels, we must come together to provide professionally-run and dignified accessible shelters, affordable housing and more Housing First programs, and expanded services for physical and mental health and substance use disorders.