200+ key stakeholders from across the state gathered in Portland in October 2022 to map out solutions to homelessness in Maine
Homelessness is an escalating crisis throughout Maine. This crisis is driven by a wide range of factors including impacts related to the pandemic, a lack of affordable housing and accessible emergency shelter, and an increase in the number of people needing support for managing substance use disorders and behavioral health issues.
To reverse this crisis, significant system change is needed. First and foremost, we must come together as a community to identify the most important issues facing us today, the changes we expect to see in the next few years, and what we need to do right NOW to help people facing homelessness in Maine. This is the moment for us to assess the lessons learned throughout the pandemic and to build momentum on new, scalable initiatives to end homelessness, including state-wide service hubs, wellness shelters, Built for Zero, and more.
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland
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Thursday, October 20, 2022
|8:00 am||Registration & Continental Breakfast|
|9:00 am||Welcome – Mark Swann, Executive Director, Preble Street|
|9:15 am||Video: Voices of Homelessness|
The State of Homelessness in our State
Mark Swann, MSPA, Executive Director, Preble Street
Shelters play a critical role in the larger network of social supports. When done right, these spaces play a vital role in our public health response and provide people with safety and dignity until more permanent solutions are found.
The past several years of the pandemic have highlighted the many gaps in Maine’s shelter system – not enough shelters, not enough beds, not enough flexibility to meet the complex needs of people experiencing homelessness. So what have we learned from these gaps and what do better shelters look like for individuals and families?
Facilitator: Donna Yellen, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Preble Street
Statewide and Regional Approaches and Solutions
This panel discussion will discuss scalable initiatives to end homelessness, including Housing First, state-wide service hubs, Built for Zero, and more.
Facilitator: Ali Lovejoy, Vice President of Mission Advancement, Preble Street
1:00-2:30 pm Workshop sessions #1
Workshop 1: Will There Be A Criminalization of Homelessness Post-COVID?
Shelter is a human right. The pandemic has increased unsheltered homelessness in Maine and throughout the country. As unsheltered homelessness grows, so does the rise of police interactions with individuals experiencing homelessness. Studies show direct correlations between these events. Can we expect the criminalization of homelessness will rise? What is Maine already doing to combat this?
Every state has a Human Rights Commission, but not many have expanded their purview to take homeless people’s perspective as Maine has. How do we as a community prevent the criminalization of homelessness? Join this panel of expert lawmakers, legal advisors, and advocates with lived experience for a stimulating, passionate, and thought-provoking discussion on the criminalization of homelessness, what it is, how it happens, what has been done in Maine and throughout the country to prevent it and steps we can take now to stop it.
Facilitator: Terence Miller, JD, Director of Advocacy, Preble Street
Workshop 2: A Conversation on Homelessness with Maine’s Healthcare Stakeholders
Healthcare is a critical need for Maine’s homeless populations. Hear from Maine Medical Center, Penobscot Community Health Care, and others about the innovative solutions and the issues, including behavioral health, recuperative care, and substance use, keeping them awake at night. Our panelists will discuss the challenges facing healthcare providers today, what’s been working for Maine’s healthcare facilities, and what needs they see ahead.
Facilitator: Caroline Fernandes, Director of Health Services, Preble Street
3:00-4:30 pm Workshop sessions #2
Workshop 3: Solutions for Youth Homelessness in Maine
Too often, youth homelessness is overlooked or undetected; many young people who are homeless fall under the radar of official counting efforts, resulting in large data gaps and chronically underfunded services. In 2020, 30 percent of Maine’s homeless population was under age 24, including 139 unaccompanied youth and young adults, according to official counts. However, youth service providers agree that these numbers are likely a substantial underestimate of the reality in Maine.
The scope of this problem is daunting, but substantial efforts are underway in Maine to address it.
Facilitator: Leah McDonald, LCSW, Senior Director of Teen Services
Workshop 4: Understanding how People become Unsheltered
People are unsheltered because the system is not working. What needs to change to reduce the number of unsheltered people?
Facilitator: Henry Myer, Director, Elena’s Way, and Street Outreach Collaborative, Preble Street