Topic: Housing Services

Congressman Jared Golden signs onto the Mayor’s Challenge

Congressman Jared Golden is the latest public official to sign onto the Mayor’s Challenge, a call to action for civic leaders to commit to making sure every veteran in Maine has a home.

As part of the Homeless Veteran Action Committee, staff from Preble Street joined partners from the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, Maine VFW, VA Maine, and HUD to meet with the Congressman and discuss ways to end veteran homelessness throughout our state.

We can end veteran homelessness in Maine

Preble Street Veterans Housing Services (VHS) is a member of the Maine Homeless Veteran Action Committee, an alliance existing to ensure veteran homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

In 2018, 294 veterans experiencing homelessness were housed. Goals for 2019:

  • End chronic and long-term homelessness among veterans in Maine
  • Create a system to house veterans experiencing homelessness in 90 days or less
  • To cross the finish line we need 20 new landlords across the state

Contact Robert Marcroft, VHS Statewide Housing Liaison: 207-775-0026 ext. 1295 / rmarcroft@preblestreet.org

More Mainers Home for Good

“Laying on the ground, sleeping outside, cold. Now it’s nice and warm. I feel safe. This is home.”

Because of your support, Preble Street is the place people begin the journey from homelessness to hope.

When they no longer have to deal with the stress and danger of the streets tenants in Housing First programs focus on their goals, work on their health, and reconnect to families. Some go back to work. Others volunteer. Their lives improve. The community improves.

“It saved my life. I’m hoping it will save a bunch more lives. Places like this are common sense.”

For more information, click here.

Maine Homeless Veterans Action Committee Annual Update

Thomas Ptacek, a formerly homeless veteran and Preble Street Veterans Housing Services Peer Outreach Coordinator, opened up Monday’s Maine Homeless Veterans Action Committee (HVAC) annual update with reflections from his personal experience:

“The way that I survived was to completely disconnect and shut down. When I got out of the shelter and into my apartment, it was hard for me to think that I was deserving. The fear of becoming homeless again is something to this day I’m afraid could happen again — I never thought it could happen in the first place. When someone has been homeless for a long time, their housing may not necessarily be real to them right away.”

Preble Street is a member of HVAC, an alliance existing to ensure veteran homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. The goal of HVAC is to create a system in which a veteran experiencing homelessness will be connected to housing within 90 days of being identified.

While there is still work to be done, much progress has been made in ending veteran homelessness in Maine. Last year, 201 veterans experiencing homelessness were permanently housed. This is up from 192 in 2017.

Veteran Homelessness is a SOLVABLE problem, one that we can solve together.

For more information: https://www.preblestreet.org/what-we-do/housing-services/veterans-housing-services/

Volunteers Needed at Florence House!

In addition to the 350+ meals that are served three times a day at the Resource Center Soup Kitchen, Preble Street also operates soup kitchens at the Teen Center and at Florence House. Volunteers at these locations work on a smaller scale and provide much needed support to the women and youth Preble Street serves. Upwards of 50 women receive three meals a day at Florence House.

If you’re looking to make a big difference in the lives of women in Portland, Florence House is the place for you!

Requirements

  • Must be 21 year old or older
  • Must commit to a regular, weekly shift for a minim of 3 months, or a regularly monthly shift for at least 1 year

Shift Schedule (meal times are the same 7 days a week)

  • Lunch: 10:30am-1:30pm
  • Dinner: 4:30-7:30pm

While we are seeking volunteers for all shifts—the shifts with the highest need are:

  • Monday dinners
  • Thursday dinners
  • Friday lunches
  • Saturday lunches
  • Sunday lunches

Click here to sign up and start volunteering at Florence House! Current volunteers, please email Volunteer Manager Ali Brauner and indicate which shift(s) you’d most prefer!

2nd Annual David A. Zysk Memorial Scholarship

University of Southern Maine MSW student and Preble Street Veterans Housing Services Supervisor Erin Kelly has been selected as the second ever David A. Zysk Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Preble Street created the scholarship to honor the life and contributions of Clinical Intervention Program Case Manager David Zysk, who passed away in 2015. Each year $1,000 is awarded to one staff member or intern enrolled in a degree program who lives out David’s ideal of “meeting people where they’re at.”

The following excerpt from Erin’s scholarship application illustrates how she embodies David’s legacy:

The ways in which Preble Street has shaped my world view can be summed up with one of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” There are many people at Preble Street who are suffering, and life for them is difficult and often traumatic. Clients face mental illness, physical disability, substance use disorders, and poverty. My work at Preble Street has highlighted structural inequalities and the multitude of injustices that exist in the context of American society. But through all of this, my clients have inspired me and awed me with their resilience. There are clear moments of joy—moments when people walk into their new apartment for the first time, or when they find that they are getting a life-changing increase in income. But I have also found that it is important to look for the joy in the smaller, more difficult moments as well. These moments can be the first time a client shows up sober to a showing, or the moment when you realize that you have finally forged a trusting relationship with someone after a year of trying, or just being able to sit next to a client in the courtyard because they are simply too weary to walk any farther.

Congratulations, Erin, and thank you for your service to the Preble Street mission!

VA awards Preble Street $2.1 million

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded Preble Street more than $2 million to provide housing for the state’s veteran homeless population.

Preble Street Veterans Housing Services (VHS) assists veterans and their families to find and maintain stable housing and works to end homelessness among veterans throughout Maine. The team covers all 16 of the state’s counties with offices in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, and Machias. Maine has the third highest percentage of veterans in the country—the flexible models employed by VHS are critical to meet the range of needs, resources, and situations of veterans living in both rural and urban areas of a large state.

“The VA’s continued funding of VHS has a tremendous impact on veteran families experiencing homelessness throughout Maine,” says VHS Program Manager Rob Liscord. “This grant will allow us to solidify our important successes and continue to collaborate with community partners across the state to address the needs of Maine’s veteran families experiencing homelessness, and the stressors associated with a lack of safe and affordable shelter, food, and healthcare.”

In 2016, VHS worked with 335 Veteran Households—a total of 556 individual clients—including homeless families with children. Recent successes include:

  • 101 homeless veterans housed across Maine (Jan-Sep 2017)
  • 46% drop in average length of homelessness among veterans (Jan-Sep 2017)
  • 42% drop in chronic homelessness among veterans (over past year)

“Despite the great progress made in addressing veteran homelessness, the need for assistance remains great as we’ve seen a jump in the number of requests this very quarter compared to last year,” Rob continued. “It’s a privilege to work every day to ensure that veteran homelessness is rare, brief and nonrecurring, but there’s still a need to address the issues of poverty that lead to homelessness such as lack of healthcare, access to food, and sufficient income.”

Portland’s third “housing first” program opens

On Tuesday, September 12 Preble Street and Avesta Housing celebrated the opening of Huston Commons, Portland’s third “housing first” program. Many thanks to all the friends, collaborators, community members, and officials who attended and participated. We’re especially grateful for the presence of Stephanie and Steven Huston—children of Steve Huston, the namesake of Huston Commons—and all the tenants who opened up their homes!

Together, the 30 tenants of Huston Commons spent thousands of nights in Portland shelters, in the woods, or under bridges before finding their way home to a furnished efficiency apartment at Huston Commons. A home for good.

Huston Commons provides essential 24/7 support services, including a medical care room to accommodate regular practitioner hours and telemedicine services for tenants, all of whom have disabilities. Avesta Housing develops, owns, and manages the building, and Preble Street provides on-site staffing, including social work services for tenants.

Supportive housing has proven successful locally and across the nation, both for the tenants and for the entire community. Housing First can end homelessness—not manage it, not deal with it—end it.

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)

“We all deserve the dignity of … a home.”

We see a lot of sadness at Preble Street as those we care about struggle with the tragedy and violence of poverty, untreated mental illness, relentless hunger and the disease of addictions.

We’re certainly blessed, however, to bear witness when a client graduates from school, secures a job, finds a new home, or accesses the services they need and deserve. Those of us who work at Preble Street feel honored to share in those joyful moments, and we celebrate those successes.

Now is one of those times to celebrate – times 30!

Yesterday Huston Commons opened and 30 chronically homeless men and women will have a home of their own, a home for good.

Thanks to our great partners at Avesta Housing and the Portland Housing Authority, our third “Housing First” apartment building has opened its doors! Like Logan Place and Florence House before it, we know that Huston Commons will change (or even save) the lives of the tenants who live there.

We know that Huston Commons will make a demonstrable difference in the city’s overcrowded emergency shelters.

And we know that Huston Commons will save the community money, as it has been proven over and over again that providing “housing first” apartments and services is cheaper than the endless cycle of shelters, emergency rooms, jails, detox programs that chronically homeless people endure year after year.

3 of the new tenants at Huston Commons are veterans. 8 are women. 12 have been living and sleeping outside. Another 13 were “long-term stayers” at the City shelter, having spent literally thousands and thousands of nights at emergency shelters.

The “housing first” model is the solution to chronic homelessness. Huston Commons will make a big difference in people’s lives and in this community.

All of us at Preble Street – board, staff, volunteers, student interns, and community partners – are proud be working to create solutions for people struggling with homeless and hunger in Maine.

Who Was Steve Huston?

Steve was a compelling advocate for social justice who led a life best described as “a road less traveled”—filled with kindness and friendship shown to his fellow travelers.

Family was important to him. Social justice was his mission. And a commitment to speak for those who were maligned and marginalized was his passion.

Steve, a Preble Street staff person who had spent years homeless himself, fervently believed:  “We all deserve the dignity of … a home.” Click here to hear Steve in his own words.