The encampment on the Bayside Trail is a visual representation of the fact that we are in the midst of a homelessness crisis, a crisis that is occurring all across Maine, not just here in Portland. It is absolutely devastating that so many people are left living outside and unsheltered due to a massive shortage of shelter beds, a lack of affordable housing, and insufficient resources for people with mental health and substance use disorders.
Every day, we see individuals suffering the severe health consequences of living unsheltered, and our partners at National Health Care for the Homeless Council just released a study showing that continuous displacement by encampment sweeps leads to even higher rates of mortality, overdoses, and hospitalizations.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We need to advocate for more emergency shelter funding, Site-based Housing First programs, and treatment programs for people with substance use and other mental health disorders.