Preble Street is in planning stages to build a specialized Healing Center providing 24-hour safety, support, and resources for women experiencing homelessness who are also survivors of trauma, mental illness, substance use disorder, trafficking, torture, and violence.
“Preble Street now has many doorways — more than a dozen programs throughout the state — where people begin the journey to opportunity and hope,” said Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann. “We can’t wait to include the Healing Center among them.”
The 30 to 40-bed Healing Center will be located at 55 Portland Street in Portland and is anticipated to open in 2021. The Healing Center will be developed to accommodate women currently staying at Oxford Street Shelter and to provide an improved continuum of care for single women who are currently homeless in Portland.
“The center will ensure women receive immediate, safe, and appropriate services in a secure, dignified place where healing can begin,” said Preble Street Senior Director of Teen & Anti-Trafficking Services Daniella Cameron. “We know from both our own research and experience, and from recent high numbers of women accessing the City shelter, that meeting the specific needs of women who are homeless is critical.”
The levels of trauma and mental health challenges of women who are homeless has been documented nationally. 50% of women across the country report domestic violence as a cause for homelessness. Women who come to Preble Street frequently have histories of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and other forms of exploitation — 44% have been sexually assaulted while homeless. The current increase in substance use disorders as well as increased human trafficking makes safety concerns for women far greater than in the past.
As a low barrier entry point into a coordinated system and with expertise in addressing human trafficking, Preble Street will partner with domestic violence, sexual assault service providers, immigration service organizations, case management, recovery, medical and behavioral health organizations to design a Healing Center that will provide 24-hour service-rich programming to meet the complex needs of women experiencing homelessness.
According to Swann, “With this new program, we carry forward a long history of filling service gaps, meeting urgent needs, and working in tandem with longtime partners like the City of Portland to address problems for our vulnerable neighbors, create lasting impact, and strive to end homelessness and hunger in Maine.”