…with housing first, people are given a safe, stable place to live and offered support, whether its for substance use disorder, mental illness, physical health or employment training.
“We really feel housing is itself therapeutic,” said Hillary Colcord, the director of Huston Commons, a housing-first facility in Portland.
Portland has three separate developments dedicated to housing the long-term homeless: Logan Place, Florence House, and Huston Commons. Each one was built by Avesta Housing and is staffed by the nonprofit social services agency Preble Street.
“It’s pretty remarkable to see people transitioning out of survival mode, worrying day-to-day and night-to-night about where they’re going to be … and (to see) people starting to believe they’re worth getting the medical care they have not had for a long time,” said Ali Lovejoy, the senior director of residential services at Preble Street.
“Watching my father’s struggles was a painfully long goodbye. Fortunately, Logan Place gave a father and his children the chance to once again say hello.” Amanda A. Meader shares a beautiful story of how the Preble Street Housing First program touched her family.
Increased homelessness and its root causes are not unique to Portland. Despite what we hear about a strengthening economy, homelessness and hunger have exploded and many thousands of hungry, cold and ill Americans are living on streets in cities and towns across the country. And, across the country, municipalities and service providers struggle daily with unpredictable funding and increased costs as they work tirelessly to help people in their communities find shelter, food, housing, health care and hope.
The Maine Homeless Veterans Action Committee delivered its annual update on the state of veteran homelessness Wednesday.
An estimated 278 veterans became homeless last year in Maine. 192 of them were housed by local organizations.
Data was collected from emergency shelters and community volunteers to create a better understanding of who the homeless are as well as how best to get them back on their feet.
Rob Liscord of Preble Street Veterans Housing Services says Maine has come a long way over the last five years in terms of prioritizing housing homeless vets.
Refusal to expand Maine’s Medicaid program has left many homeless veterans to suffer in shelters and on the street. Maine has the fifth highest per capita population of veterans in the nation, and Medicaid is essential for veterans. Yet we have repeatedly turned our backs.
Veterans are more likely to experience homelessness than the overall population, and Medicaid is important for “veterans experiencing homelessness who have high rates of chronic health conditions, disabilities, mental health issues, and alcohol or substance use disorders,” according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation report.
Using data collected from Health Care for the Homeless projects in nine states, the report includes both states that expanded their Medicaid programs and those that didn’t, and the numbers are striking. In those states that expanded Medicaid, 55 percent of homeless veterans served were covered by Medicaid, compared with only 5 percent in nonexpansion states.
Some members of Portland’s homeless population now have a place to call home.
Preble Street officially opened the third complex of its Housing First initiative: Houston Commons, an apartment complex designed to help the chronically homeless by providing a permanent place for them to live. Huston Commons houses 30 people who have been living on the streets of the city for years.
The building was paid for through a tax credit, it’s staffing and social work is paid for through private grants- Preble Street Resource Center is a non-profit.
Avesta Housing and Preble Street have opened Portland’s third “housing first” program, Huston Commons, which is now home to 30 formerly homeless individuals with chronic health challenges.
Located near Morrill’s Corner at 72 Bishop St. in Portland, Huston Commons was named for Steve Huston, a former Preble Street employee who experienced and overcame homelessness and who was an eloquent and forceful advocate for housing first. “We all deserve the dignity of … a home,” he once said.
A more than quarter of a million dollar grant is being given to Preble Street Resource Center in Portland- money that the non-profit’s staff say will help end the cycle of chronic homelessness for many people.
The KeyBank Foundation is giving $300,000 to Preble Street over the next three years. The money will help bolster the shelter’s Housing First program, which provides permanent housing to those who have been living their lives on the streets the longest. Executive Director of Preble Street, Mark Swann, says while about 80% of people who are homeless are only homeless temporarily, about 15-20% struggle to overcome addiction and mental illness and often remain homeless for years or even decades. Swann says permanent housing allows them to start down the road to wellness.
Preble Street, a Portland nonprofit focused on reducing homelessness, will receive $300,000 from KeyBank’s charitable arm.
KeyBank Foundation will make the grant over three years.
The donation is part of a Key’s National Community Benefits Plan, which will commit $16.5 billion to community development and investment over five years. The plan will cover Key’s 15-state footprint and be initiated in four areas: mortgage ($5 billion), small business lending ($2.5 billion), community development lending ($8.8 billion) and investment and philanthropy ($175 million).
The funding will expand Preble Street’s current “Housing First” support services and increase the permanent supportive housing it can provide from 55 to 85 individuals.
Photo: Brianna Soukup | Portland Press Herald
In Joe Meyers’ new apartment, he has a potted succulent on the windowsill. He has a bed with a blue bedspread. He has shelves stocked with oatmeal and canned vegetables.
But his favorite part is the door.
“I can close the door and be left alone,” Meyers said. “This is a life-changing type of thing. I’m 62, but this is still a life-changing type of thing.”
Meyers has been homeless in Portland off and on for 17 years. He is one of 30 new tenants at Huston Commons, Portland’s third housing development for the chronically homeless. The apartment building is owned by Avesta Housing and run by Preble Street…[Read more]