Take action: Support funding for low-barrier shelters

At a time when homelessness is exploding across Maine and when tragic encampments have popped up throughout the state, Maine’s critically important low-barrier shelters are in danger of closing due to lack of sustainable funding.

Currently, there are only five low-barrier shelters in Maine, run by four organizations: Bangor’s Hope House Health & Living Center in Bangor, operated by Penobscot Community Health Center (PCHC); Waterville’s Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter & Services (MMHSS); Portland’s Milestone Recovery, Preble Street’s Elena’s Way Wellness Shelter, and Florence House Women’s Shelter.

A low-barrier shelter accepts someone regardless of sobriety, treatment for mental illness, or history of criminal convictions, including registration on the sex offender registry. Low-barrier shelters generally serve those with the most significant challenges, including acute mental illness, substance use disorder, and severe physical health problems. These shelters across Maine are currently at capacity, severely limiting access to the care and services they provide.

Today, Governor Mills is presenting her State of the State Address and shared her priorities for addressing homelessness and building more housing. In her remarks, Governor Mills wrote, “Whether a person is experiencing homelessness or transitioning to a new life in our state; whether a person is retired or working full time or looking to rent an apartment in a rural town or to purchase their first home in a city — there should be a place for that person in Maine.”

Governor Mills proposed $16 million in her forthcoming supplemental budget proposal for the Emergency Housing Relief Fund to ensure that winter warming shelters, lower barrier shelters, longer term shelters and transitional housing programs can remain open, operating, and supporting the emergency housing needs of Maine people.

Preble Street thanks Governor Mills for including funding for Maine’s emergency shelters, especially for Maine’s five critically important low-barrier shelters, which are in crisis. Low-barrier shelters play an essential role in the continuum of care for the chronically homeless and are the first step towards Site-based Housing First and more stability. We appreciate this support as it will provide much-needed stability in the short term for low-barrier shelters and the vulnerable clients we serve.

Looking forward, Preble Street and other low-barrier shelter providers will continue to face substantive shortfalls without more sustained, annual funding and will continue to pursue additional revenue sources, including through opioid funding at the state, county, and local municipal levels. We can’t afford to have any of Maine’s low-barrier shelters close their doors.


Significant and permanent funding is needed to keep low-barrier, professional shelters open. Please reach out to Governor Mills and the members of the Joint Select Committee on Housing (listed below) and thank them for their support of emergency shelters in Maine and urge them to continue to pursue all opportunities for increased and permanent funding, especially for Maine’s vulnerable low-barrier shelters.

Members of the Joint Housing Committee

Senator Teresa Pierce of Cumberland- Chair
D – Senate District 25

Senator Matthew Pouliot of Kennebec
R – Senate District 15

Senator Eloise Vitelli of Sagadahoc
D – Senate District 24

Representative Traci Gere of Kennebunkport- Chair
D – House District 134

Representative Mark Blier of Buxton
R – House District 138

Representative Dick Bradstreet of Vassalboro
R – House District 61

Representative Dick Campbell of Orrington
R – House District 19


Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook
D – House District 126

Representative Cheryl Golek of Harpswell
D – House District 99

Representative Grayson Lookner of Portland
D – House District 113

Representative Joshua Morris of Turner
R – House District 91

Representative Ambureen Rana of Bangor
D – House District 21

Representative Holly Stover of Boothbay
D – House District 48

Learn more

The importance of funding for low-barrier shelters

Hundreds of Mainers are living outside in the elements in our parks, alongside our highways, and on our streets. With shelters across the state at capacity every night, each tent you see is a visual representation of the critical need for shelter beds in communities all across our state. It is inhumane for people to

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