Take Action Now: Permanent Funding for Shelters

Significant and ongoing funding is needed to keep Maine’s professional, low-barrier shelters open. On Friday, February 23, 2024, the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs will consider funding for emergency shelters and low-barrier shelters. Please reach out to the AFA committee, using the drafted email below or with a personalized email. You can refer to the bottom of the page for all the Committee member’s contact information.

Hello AFA Committee Members,

I am writing to you today on behalf of Preble Street to request $10M and $2.5M be allocated from the supplemental budget to emergency shelter and low-barrier shelter funding, respectively.

Maine is experiencing a homelessness crisis, and our low-barrier shelters are in danger of closing due to a lack of sustainable funding, operating at a four-million-dollar cumulative deficit. 

Emergency shelters and low-barrier shelters are a vital part of any healthy community.

Please support this critically important funding to keep our emergency shelters and low-barrier shelters open and serving the community.

Thank you,

Your Name

Low-barrier shelters are the emergency rooms in the journey from shelter to housing. They’re often the first step toward long-term housing.

They connect unsheltered Mainers to life-saving services, like healthcare, case management, and recovery programs/services. These services can be provided on-site or through community partners. 

These necessary and comprehensive services come with significant staffing requirements and operating costs. Due to a lack of sustained and permanent funding, the only five low-barrier shelters in Maine are currently operating at a nearly four-million-dollar cumulative deficit

And, one of these five low-barrier shelters, Hope House Health & Living Center in Bangor, plans to close in October 2024 due to rising costs and a lack of funds. Hope House, a 64-bed, low-barrier shelter, is Bangor’s largest shelter and Maine’s only low-barrier shelter north of Waterville. Its closure would be devastating to more than 300 people, experiencing homelessness – many with untreated substance use or mental health issues – who find shelter at Hope House. 

This funding from the supplemental budget for emergency shelters and low-barrier shelters is critical to ensuring the long-term health and survival of Hope House and low-barrier shelters across the state of Maine. 

There are only five low-barrier shelters in Maine: 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.

Members of the AFA Committee

Senator Margaret Rotundo of Androscoggin  Chair, D – Senate District 21 

Senator Jill Duson of Cumberland, D – Senate District 27

Senator Richard Bennett of Oxford, R – Senate District 18

Representative Nathan Carlow of Buxton, R – House District 13

Representative Jack Ducharme of Madison, R – House District 71

Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook, D – House District 126

Representative Melanie Sachs of Freeport – Chair, D – House District 102

Representative Dan Ankeles of Brunswick, D – House District 100

Representative Mark Blier of Buxton, R – House District 138

Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland, D – House District 114

Representative Jessica Fay of Richmond, D – House District 86

Representative Ann Matlack of St. George, D – House District 43

Representative Sawin Millet of Waterford, R – House District 81

Understanding low barrier shelters

What does a low-barrier shelter look like? At a time when unsheltered homelessness is increasing exponentially in our community and the shortage of low-barrier shelter beds has created a state-wide homelessness crisis, Elena’s Way and Florence House are a model for how we can take care of the most vulnerable people in our community. The

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Celebrating advocacy wins

Low-barrier shelters receive funding for the next three years… On April 22, 2024, Governor Janet Mills signed the supplemental budget into law, which includes three years of $2.5M in annual funding — a total of $7.5M — to directly support emergency low-barrier shelters. This funding will be incredibly impactful for Maine’s five privately operated, low-barrier

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Community solutions for community problems

March is National Social Work month, and we are sharing some of the experiences of Andrew Bove (he/him), VP of Social Work at Preble Street. Below Andrew reckons with the challenges posed by the opioid epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing crisis, and how these things have stressed an already disjointed and dysfunctional health system.

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