It’s time to invest in more shelter beds

The people who have been living at the Bayside Trail encampment deserve dignity and safety. No one should have to sleep outside in Maine or in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Everyone should have access to toilets and safe drinking water and a roof over their heads. Preble Street will continue to work with the City of Portland and other service providers to support people who are unsheltered and at the encampment and help them to meet their basic needs – food, clean clothes, medical care, and a safe place to sleep.

Clearing encampments isn’t a solution to the growing number of unsheltered people in Portland and throughout Maine. Each tent in the Bayside encampment, as well as each tent at the many other encampments throughout Maine, is a visual, and heartbreaking, representation of the lack of shelter beds in Maine. Shelters play an absolutely critical role in solving homelessness and in keeping communities safe. Yet, across the state, shelters are in a state of constant struggle to keep doors open and people safe and many emergency shelters in Maine operate under budget deficits as high as 70%.

It is time to invest in shelters as a resource for the most vulnerable people in our society, and as resource to ensure the public health of our communities. Governor Mills’ change packet to her overall 2-year budget proposal, announced today, provides emergency support to address Maine’s shelter and housing crisis, including shelter funding inequities, Site-based Housing First, and affordable housing. These are all critical efforts that will help Maine’s most vulnerable citizens.