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Giving Voice: How to honor the memory of a homeless veteran

December 17, 2019 | Portland Press Herald

Along with the resources listed in this article, please visit LandlordsHelp.org to see how you can partner to give a veteran a home.

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The Brunswick community said goodbye to a dear friend last week. As most of you have already read, Russell Williams died alone under the Federal Street bridge in downtown Brunswick on November 23rd. Last Thursday over 100 people attended the Celebration of Life at The Gathering Place in Russell’s honor. Many shared wonderful memories, sang songs, and enjoyed an opportunity to say goodbye.

The loss of Russell to the Gathering Place is profound and I find myself wondering what next? How do we honor his memory? One way is to shine a light on the fact that Rusell was a veteran. Many people mistakenly believe that since there is a VA and other government agencies that are tasked with helping homeless veterans that there is no pressing need to do more, but this is completely false. Veterans deserve to be made whole, and to have a place to call home that is their own.

Russell was lucky to have received the support of the VA resources from Preble Street Veteran Housing Services and was issued a voucher. However, those 60 days came and went with no success of finding housing. The supply of available affordable housing is scarce and the emergency shelter system is maxed out as well. The waiting lists for Brunswick Housing Authority property is years long and there are few private landlords available to help. This left Russell with nowhere to go.

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