Last year, 631 Mainers died of overdoses, and according to the Maine Overdose Report, the number of fatal overdoses so far this year are 9.7% higher. We know that people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to substance use disorder. We know that leaving them to struggle with this disease on their own is a death sentence. And we know how to save the lives of our neighbors. The wraparound medical/housing model of the HOUSE (Homeless Opioid User Service Engagement) program, a collaboration between Preble Street and Greater Portland Health, continues to prove itself as an effective tool to getting people off the streets and into recovery.
Over the last year, the HOUSE program has connected 51 individuals to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and housed 22 individuals. Combined, the 22 individuals housed have experienced at least 199 years of homelessness. That is equivalent to 72,635 nights without shelter.
When people have a safe, stable place to stay and feel supported, they can turn their focus from surviving moment to moment, to recovery. Once clients are housed and succeeding in recovery, caseworkers support individuals in their other goals, including employment and reconnecting with family.
We are hopeful that the State of Maine will continue to fund this incredible program, and save the lives of more Mainers. There is hope in recovery.