Michelle lost her home in a fire 10 years ago and ended up having to stay in shelters in Lewiston and Portland. After connecting with Preble Street, she became one of the first residents of Huston Commons, which opened in 2017 as the third Site-based Housing First program in Maine.
“This is everything for me, I can’t imagine being out there anymore,” she told the Bangor Daily News recently.
We have a homelessness crisis in our state and the available shelters and housing simply cannot meet the need, leaving far too many people living outside. Site-based Housing First is a solution for the many people enduring long-term, chronic homelessness in Maine.
To meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of chronic homelessness, a person must have been homeless for longer than a year or more than four times in the last three years. The reality is that most people moving into a Site-based Housing First program have been homeless a lot longer than that, sometimes even for decades.
We know the solution to homelessness is housing. Preble Street — along with our partners at Avesta Housing — has shown that the solution to chronic homelessness is Site-based Housing First, like the programs at Logan Place, Florence House, and Huston Commons where tenants each have their own permanent efficiency apartment and casework staff provide 24-hour supportive services to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness.
This coming Tuesday, April 4, the Housing Committee will hold a public hearing on LD 2: An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis. This critical bill will provide funding for the 24-hour a day supportive services that make Site-based Housing First the solution for people experiencing chronic homelessness. We are hopeful that this legislation, which has bipartisan support, will continue to move forward and that organizations across the state will want to replicate these programs in their communities. Please follow the instructions in this Action Alert to help support this bill!
Site-based Housing First is the most effective and cost-effective way to support people with complex needs and keep them housed. “It’s the 24-hour supportive services that are key. The needs of someone who has experienced chronic homelessness doesn’t fit into an 8-5 business day,” says Donna Yellen, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “When people live outside, sometimes for years, their sleep patterns change and they are often awake throughout the night. That’s when they need to be able to talk to someone and focus on navigating the challenges that would lead to them becoming homeless again.”
Aside from the importance of having 24/7 social work staff on site, another key component of Site-based Housing First programs is the opportunity to build community. Whether it’s a spa day for the women at Florence House (pictured below), a shared meal cooked by tenants and staff at Logan Place, or a movie night at Huston Commons, there are many opportunities for residents to build relationships with their neighbors.
March is Women’s History month and too often, it’s easy to lose sight of the needs of women who are experiencing homelessness. Homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, is tragic and difficult for anyone, and women face unique obstacles as they work to reclaim their lives. This is true for both cisgender (people whose gender identity matches their gender assigned at birth) and transgender women. Their paths into homelessness vary from men’s and are more likely to be due to escaping domestic violence or trafficking situations or lower pay. Once on the street they are especially vulnerable to violence and are more likely to experience mental health issues than their male counterparts.
Preble Street caseworkers at our three Site-based Housing First programs meet tenants wherever they are in life and help them move forward with dignity and respect. This can be especially impactful for women who have been disempowered by traffickers or abusive partners or who have otherwise experienced a lack of agency over their lives. In their own homes they are given the control and autonomy to lead life on their terms, while still having easy access to a larger community and support or resources they may want.
For Michelle and the 84 other residents of Site-based Housing First this community and support gives them the space to recover from the years of homelessness they experienced. But, everybody, in every community across Maine, deserves housing and the support necessary to maintain it.
by Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News After losing her Oxford Hills home in a fire 10 years ago, Michelle Ducas spent the money she had before landing in a Lewiston shelter, then headed to Portland thinking it would be easier to find a good job. It proved harder than she expected. The 38-year-old ended up
Detailed description of Preble Street legislative priorities for the 131st session of the Maine Legislature. Hunger and homelessness are on the rise in our state this winter, leaving thousands of our fellow Mainers without enough food and without shelter or housing. As unsheltered homelessness grows, so does the rise of police interactions as these neighbors