Topic: Resource Center

MaineCare Changes Lives

On January 3, Medicaid expansion was signed into law in Maine. Since then, more than 500 Mainers have been approved for coverage.

With support from Preble Street Health Services, Kelly reapplied for MaineCare and received her card last week! “If I’m going to live long, I need access to decent medical care,” she said. “I’ve had almost no access to the mental health or medical services I need. Having MaineCare is going to change that completely — it’s going to be a whole new set of opportunities. It changes my life.”

The expansion will make Medicaid available to roughly 70,000 more Mainers.

The average life expectancy for people experiencing homelessness is 28 years younger than for those with stable housing. Last month we mourned members of the homeless community who had passed away over the last year. The fact that people are dying decades too soon further highlights the need for healthcare, and Medicaid expansion is a step in the right direction.

Patriots Donate Empowerment Coats

The New England Patriots and the Kraft family have earned “extra points” once again for keeping people experiencing homelessness warm! The organization donated 700 Empowerment Plan coats to homeless shelters and social service agencies around New England, including Preble Street. These specially-designed winter jackets are durable, water-resistant, and even transform into a sleeping bag! Many thanks to the entire Patriots organization!

Pictured: Preble Street Resource Assistant Ray Hepler handing off a coat to Resource Center Team Leader Ashish Shrestha to bring to a client.

Warming Hearts (and Feet): Linda Holtslander and Her Preble Street Sock Drive

‘Tis the season for giving and Peaks Island-resident, and Preble Street volunteer extraordinaire, Linda Holtslander did something this year that reminded us all what it truly means to give back. Knowing that socks are the most-requested garment by people experiencing homelessness, Linda decided to celebrate her 75th birthday by running a sock drive for Preble Street, with the goal of collecting 500 pairs.

See more…

Statement on proposed Homeless Services Center location

At this time, Preble Street is not endorsing the City’s proposed Homeless Services Center location at the Barron Center on outer Brighton Avenue.

We still need to learn more specifics about the property in question, and hear what clients think of the location. While a new site is certainly of critical importance, so too is the service delivery model, its accessibility, the safety of those accessing services, and the available resources.

We’re very pleased the City is making progress in relocating the Oxford Street Shelter. Like the Preble Street Resource Center, the city shelter was designed over 25 years ago to serve far fewer people, at a time when there was a more robust mental health and substance use disorder system of care.

Current best practices demand shelters be open 24 hours and have comprehensive onsite services. The City Manager clearly gets this, and we appreciate his leadership in moving this challenging process forward.

This undertaking is incredibly important—a once-in-25-years opportunity—so it needs to be done right. Preble Street looks forward to working closely with the City Manager, the City Council, and the broader community to ensure our most vulnerable neighbors are welcomed, safe, and offered every opportunity to improve their lives.

A closer look at the Resource Center

Preble Street runs 14 programs meeting urgent needs, empowering people to move beyond crises, and advocating for solutions to homelessness, hunger, and poverty.

One of those vital programs is the Resource Center:

  • Serves 350 people every day
  • 25 full-time and 25 part-time staff
  • Meets basic needs including food, clothing, bathrooms, showers, laundry, mail, storage, and day shelter
  • Provides assistance with housing and jobs, benefits, and health concerns, as well as supportive counseling and referrals for substance use disorder treatment
  • The only place in Portland where a person can walk in and get casework assistance without a diagnosis or insurance
  • And so much more—click here for a graphic providing a snapshot of all that goes on in this space, and here for an in-depth profile

A message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends and Supporters of Preble Street,

In the Portland Press Herald this morning (“City proposes new $10 million shelter in Portland with 200 beds”) we were surprised to read a statement from the City of Portland asserting:

“For too long, clients have had to leave each morning with no place to go.”

Please be aware that for over 30 years there has always been a place for Oxford Street Shelter (OSS) clients—and others—to go each morning to eat, to have other basic needs met, to be safe and warm, and to meet with professional social workers. We would hate for OSS clients or others trying to survive in tragic circumstances to be under the false impression that our services are no longer available.

The Preble Street Resource Center still provides the same services it always has, and will continue to do so indefinitely.

On any given day, these services are provided to more than 350 people. Far too many people for our space and limited staff. Like OSS, the Preble Street Resource Center was designed and opened many years ago to serve a fraction of the number of people we currently see every day. For that reason, among others, we are very pleased the City has expanded OSS hours. And—from what we know about it so far—we are supportive of the City’s plans to relocate, expand, and re-envision a new City-operated shelter.

We know how difficult being open during the day is for homeless shelters. Our Teen Shelter and Florence House are both 24-hour programs. And the Resource Center has been the de facto day shelter in Portland for over two decades—a role it is still playing alongside the expanded OSS hours.

We certainly welcome the expanded hours of OSS. We can’t do it alone. Just last summer, for the first time in over 20 years, we had to close each afternoon to develop a safe and clinically-sound response to the growing opioid crisis this community is facing. We resumed regular hours at the end of October before the cold weather returned.

The Resource Center has been open for business in its current location since 1993, serving—among other things—as a “day shelter” for OSS, Milestone Recovery, and for people who are sleeping outside. Families from the City of Portland’s Family Shelter come to do their laundry at the Resource Center. Clients from domestic violence shelters come for services. We are open seven days/week, 365 days/year, even throughout the worst snow storms in recent memory.

As I write this, with snow falling outside, there are over 300 people at the Resource Center right now—the only place in the state where people can access consistent case management without insurance.

Today, as every day, 1,000 hot nutritious meals will be served. We provide nine bathrooms, four showers, three laundry machines, and locker space with 150 units to meet basic needs. Caseworkers will engage people while providing socks, underwear, jackets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap. Clients will collect their mail (we’re the mailing address for over 500 people) and use our phones to connect with family, doctors, employers. In our Resource Room clients will access computers, and be assisted with applications for housing, SNAP, and MaineCare. Evictions will be averted. People will connect to primary care providers.

Today, Preble Street’s social workers—including some who are fully-licensed to deliver clinical care—will provide assistance with housing location, employment services, family reunification, safety net services, and crisis stabilization.

They’ll work intensively with people suffering from untreated mental illness and substance use disorders—reversing overdoses once every eight days, administering Narcan and chest compressions on clients they know well and care deeply about while waiting harrowing minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Today may be one of those days.

Preble Street staff from other programs including the Maine Medical Center/Preble Street Learning Collaborative, Veterans Housing Services, Homeless Voices for Justice, the Anti-Trafficking Coalition—as well as staff from Greater Portland Health—will all convene in this space to work with clients, survivors, and patients.

Every week, Preble Street staff members sit down with clients in a special women’s group, a performance group, a peer support group, and with Homeless Voices For Justice, where people who have experienced homelessness are supported in giving voice to improve the homeless provider systems.

Every week, Maine Homeless Legal Project connects clients with volunteer attorneys from local law firms, sometimes taking cases all the way to trial. Frannie Peabody offers testing and distributes contraceptives. University of Southern Maine nursing students check blood pressure and vitals, and offer foot care. Opportunity Alliance offers mental health services. Catholic Charities provides social services. And monthly, Adult Protective Services meets with Resource Center caseworkers and extremely vulnerable clients.

Over the past several years you’ve heard us talk about our newer initiatives: the Maine Medical Center/Preble Street Learning Collaborative; Huston Commons; our Anti-Trafficking Coalition; and our recent efforts to move the state to respond to the opioid public health emergency. As an anti-poverty agency, we have a lot on our plate these days.

But the work we do at the Resource Center—while getting less attention—is a core program of Preble Street. There is a world of hurt that reveals itself each and every day at the Resource Center, and it is a part of our mission to be there for those suffering.

We’re immensely proud of the social work there, the extraordinary volunteer commitment, and the deep service partnerships we’ve developed. While we certainly acknowledge and agree we have a serious capacity issue, we also feel strongly that the Resource Center has been integral in making Portland a city where residents and businesses are proud to live and work.


Farewell 2016-17 Interns!

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” —John Fitzgerald Kennedy

2016-17 Preble Street Interns
Preble Street bid farewell last week to its 2016-17 class of social work interns.

This prestigious and competitive social work placement opportunity has been key to meeting the Preble Street mission since it was founded by Joe Kreisler, chair of the University of Southern Maine social work department. The Preble Street internship program has trained more than 400 social workers in its more-than-40-year history. Expanding from a placement opportunity for USM social work students, the applicant pool has grown over the years to include students from University of Maine Augusta, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College, Lesley University, Boston College, and Southern Maine Community College.

Front Row: Sara Cyr Jordan, Florence House Residential Services Supervisor, Rachel Andreasen, University of Southern Maine, MSW (Florence House)
Middle Row: Naomi Abrams, University of Southern Maine, MSW, (Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Coalition), Amber Clark, University of Southern Maine, MSW, (Advocacy), Brittney Dunham, Resource Center Caseworker, Melissa Towle, University of New England, MSW, (Resource Center), Hilary Elsinger, Resource Center Supervisor, Nicole Sutherland, University of Southern Maine BSW, (Logan Place), Katy Finch, University of New England, MSW, (Resource Center), Justin Brown, University of Southern Maine, MSW, (Clinical Intervention Program)
Back Row: Daniella Cameron, Director of Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Coalition, Polo Jean-Louis, Preble Street Resource Center Caseworker, Caroline Fernandes, Director of Residential Services, Kendra Page, University of New England, MSW, (Florence House), Alyssa Wade, University of New England, MSW, (Florence House), Brad Hammond, University of Southern Maine, BSW, (Resource Center)

Curbside: News from Preble Street Spring 2017

The spring 2017 edition of Curbside: News from Preble Street hit homes this week. Did you receive a copy? If not, you can read it below, and sign up here for future issues.

Mainers Helping Mainers: A Preble Street Year in Review

Watch our Year in Review video, featuring some of the friends and neighbors who stepped up to make a difference in 2016!

Every day at Preble Street, the community comes together to help Mainers move forward to better lives, giving their time, their energy, their money, their voices, and their hearts.

Your donation to Preble Street does more than ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community make it through another day. Your support empowers brave, determined people to break the cycle of homelessness by finding work, studying hard, never giving up, learning new skills, finding their voices, reuniting with family, and reaching their goals.

Most of all it helps them hold on to hope during their darkest hours.

Please join us this year in growing our community of giving hands and grateful hearts.