History

In 1975 Preble Street was founded as a neighborhood center to involve and empower homeless and low-income residents. Today, Preble Street has become the hub of programs for the most vulnerable and underserved residents of Portland. The timeline below displays some of the key dates and events that have shaped the organization.

  • 1975

    PREBLE STREET FOUNDED

    as the High Street Resource Center, a neighborhood center to serve and empower homeless and low-income residents. Preble Street founder, Joe Kreisler, started the agency as a real world training ground for his students at the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work and for Portland’s most vulnerable residents to get help with solving their problems. Joe dedicated his professional life to addressing the needs of the disenfranchised. Joe was a member of the Board of Directors and a daily presence at Preble Street. More than that, he was the embodiment of the agency’s mission, its philosophy, its spirit, and its dedication to meeting everyone as an equal human being.

  • 1981

    THE AGENCY MOVES AND BECOMES PREBLE STREET  RESOURCE CENTER

    in the basement of the Preble Street Chapel. As homelessness became an urban issue, Preble Street was the first agency in Maine to recognize that people experiencing homelessness needed a place to stay during the day and provided free meals and access to clothing, phones, bathrooms, mail, case management, healthcare, employment, and more.

  • 1985

    FIRST FULL-TIME SOCIAL WORKER HIRED.

  • 1987

    PORTLAND CITY OFFICIALS PROMISE TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY SHELTER

    to anyone in need after a successful “tent city” protest led by Preble Street, consumer advocates, and national leaders on homelessness.

  • 1993

    PREBLE STREET RESOURCE CENTER MOVES

    across the street to 5 Portland Street, expands hours and services, and consolidates city’s scattered meal programs in one accessible location.

  • 1995

    HOMELESS VOICES FOR JUSTICE FOUNDED.

    Initially known as the Consumer Advocacy Project, Homeless Voices for Justice is a statewide social change movement, organized and led by people who have struggled with homelessness. It is a grassroots effort based on the belief that true change occurs only when those affected by an unjust system are directly involved in addressing the injustices and in which disenfranchised people become empowered and gain leadership skills to organize and advocate for systemic change. Since its creation, Homeless Voices for Justice has held more than 50 candidate forums, registered more than 2,500 people to vote, spoken out and organized around countless local and statewide issues, and more.

  • 1996

    PREBLE STREET TAKES ON THE TEEN CENTER FOR HOMELESS AND RUNAWAY YOUTH,

    replicating the successful model of the Preble Street Resource Center. The Teen Center helps to meet immediate needs — providing warmth and safety, nutritious meals, clothing, and crisis intervention — while offering them the opportunity to develop life skills that promote stability and independence.

  • 1997

    STONE SOUP DEVELOPED.

    Preble Street creates an entrepreneurial, nonprofit venture in the Portland Public Market with a culinary arts training program for homeless and low-income individuals.

  • 2002

    PREBLE STREET EXPANDS,

    building a new state-of-the art Resource Center and Teen Center and creating space for a comprehensive homeless healthcare clinic in partnership with the city of Portland.

  • 2004

    PREBLE STREET TAKES OWNERSHIP OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHELTER

    a 16-bed facility for homeless teens ages 12- 20, when the Salvation Army announced plans to close it.

  • 2005

    LOGAN PLACE OPENS.

    Preble Street partnered with Avesta Housing and the Portland Housing Authority to open Logan Place. The first “Housing First” apartment community in Maine, and one of the first in the nation, providing supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals in keeping with Preble Street’s low-barrier philosophy. The night Logan Place opened, numbers at the city’s Oxford Street Shelter decreased for the first time more than two decades. Not only that, but Logan Place proved conclusively that it is less expensive to provide housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness than to leave them on the streets.

  • 2007

    PREBLE STREET WOMEN’S SHELTER CREATED AFTER THE CLOSING OF THE YWCA.

    Recognizing many women didn’t feel safe sleeping in the mixed-sex environment of Portland’s Oxford Street Shelter, Preble Street created a dedicated emergency shelter for women.

  • 2008

    MAINE HUNGER INITIATIVE FORMED.

    To respond to a systemic crisis that had grown unabated for decades, and was exacerbated by the national recession, Preble Street created the Maine Hunger Initiative to meet immediate food needs, and develop long-term solutions to hunger.

  • 2010

    FLORENCE HOUSE OPENS.

    Building on the success of Logan Place, Preble Street once again partnered with Avesta Housing and the Portland Housing Authority to create a second “Housing First” apartment community, this time specifically for women. The goal in creating Florence House was to end chronic homelessness among women in Portland.

  • 2011

    VETERANS HOUSING SERVICES LAUNCHED.

    Preble Street, in conjunction with Pine Tree Legal Assistance and other agencies, created Veterans Housing Services, a program that works to end homelessness among veterans in Maine by assisting low-income veterans and their families to find and maintain stable housing.

  • 2013

    JOE KREISLER TEEN SHELTER OPENS

    and the Teen Center expands hours to provide safety for homeless youth 24 hours a day. The new facility provides many crucial upgrades over the old Lighthouse Shelter, including eight additional beds.

    VETERANS HOUSING SERVICES EXPANDS

    statewide, creating offices in Lewiston and Bangor.

    CLINICAL INTERVENTION PROGRAM BEGINS WORK

    to link homeless individuals throughout Cumberland County with mental illness or substance use disorder to housing, needed treatment, and community resources.

    PREBLE STREET ANTI-TRAFFICKING COALITION LAUNCHED,

    creating a comprehensive network to meet the needs of survivors of human trafficking in Southern Maine. Services include outreach, healthcare, legal services, housing assistance, and case management.

  • 2014

    FIRST PLACE BEGINS ITS TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAM

    for homeless youth, ages 18 to 23, offering apartments and case management to help young people overcome obstacles to stable housing and build brighter futures.

  • 2016

    MAINE MEDICAL CENTER-PREBLE STREET LEARNING COLLABORATIVE OPENS.

    Addressing the unmet needs of the homeless population, the MMC-Preble Street Learning Collaborative ensures the most vulnerable under-served people in Portland have access to quality, barrier-free healthcare. The Learning Collaborative provides clients with primary care, targeted case management to assist in accessing primary care, behavioral health services, and referrals to specialists.

  • 2017

    HUSTON COMMONS OPENS.

    The third Housing First program in Portland, Huston Commons provides essential 24-hour services including a medical care room to accommodate regular practitioner hours for tenants. Avesta Housing developed, owns, and manages the building, and Preble Street provides on-site staffing, including social work services for tenants.

  • 2019

    ANTI-TRAFFICKING SERVICES EXPANDS.

    With the addition of a caseworker at the Preble Street office in Bangor, ATS can empower more survivors of human trafficking to reclaim their lives.