I was alarmed and dismayed to read about Portland Police Chief James Craig’s suggestion that Preble Street Resource Center should regularly supply the police with lists of those receiving help, regardless of whether they have committed any crimes (“Portland police, shelter clash on stop-crime tactics,” April 6).
If the chief needs more officers in order to address criminal activity, he should set about making that happen. But he should not be allowed to shortcut the process by fishing through lists of innocent people just because they happen to be poor.
My family, like so many others in the Portland area, provides financial support to Preble Street each year because we know that it is the one place that our desperately hungry and sick neighbors can go when all else fails.
If the chief really believes that Preble Street’s low-barrier philosophy is ineffective, he should sit down and talk with some of the thousands of Preble Street clients who over the years have found the foothold they needed to reclaim their lives.
Homeless Voices for Justice members are concerned about the recent article regarding the Portland Police Department and Preble Street.
We have all been homeless, and have all spent countless hours at Preble Street. When you are homeless, you’re so ashamed; sometimes you don’t even want your family to know you are at the shelter because of the stereotypes associated with homelessness.
The confidentiality of the space is critical to us feeling safe, and feels like the only thing protecting the scraps of dignity we have left. Preble Street is a refuge for people in desperate need — a safe, warm place to take a shower, receive mail, use a phone to call about a job or an apartment and build ourselves back up from the lowest point of our lives.
To us, low barrier means that if I’m hungry, I can eat at the soup kitchen. If it’s raining, I can walk into the clothing closet and find dry clothes.
Of course we all want Preble Street and the neighborhood to be safe. Those of us accessing services share a mutual responsibility to maintain a safe space. Social workers provide casework and constant outreach. We talk to the community policing officer when he stops by at breakfast or comes by the courtyard on his bike.
In a time when anti-poverty sentiment is not only perpetuated but accepted as truth on which to base policy, the last thing our communities need is another reason to splinter “us” from “them.” We all have the same goal of a safe and healthy neighborhood, and we can’t do it without one another.
Marcia Frank and Thomas Ptacek
Homeless Voices for Justice, Portland Chapter
I’m writing as Preble Street’s board president to refute recent public statements made concerning safety issues at our facilities. I also want to assure our neighbors in the community that we take seriously our responsibility to maintain safe, welcoming and professional facilities and programs.
Statements by public officials would lead one to believe there is no interaction between police and Preble Street staff, and that Preble Street tries to keep police away from its facilities.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our organization regularly requests, and sometimes pays for, police details at our facilities. We always encourage and invite officers to come to our facilities.
In matters of public safety, Preble Street staff regularly initiate police calls. Why would our staff do that if they are not concerned about client and staff safety?
We also take issue with criticism of our low-barrier model. Our entire organization stands behind that model wholeheartedly.
We also will not turn over lists of clients if doing so causes us to violate the terms of legal agreements or to violate legal confidentiality requirements.
Preble Street staff at the Resource Center, the Teen Center, Lighthouse Shelter, Florence House and Logan Place are all trained professionals who are closely supervised and supported and who regularly work cooperatively with law enforcement.
Just last spring three of our staff were given awards — alongside Portland police officers — by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their help in identifying and ultimately convicting a dangerous stalker.
We look forward to continued interactions with law enforcement agencies that are free of public misstatements and misguided attempts to change our mission.
Edited column on CMP wasn’t to author’s liking
I am very disappointed that this statement was inserted in my Maine Voices column on April 11 (“CMP continues to mislead its customers with smart meters”):
“And now, CMP has received the backing of the Public Utilities Commission, which in a ‘tentative order’ from its two active members says it will not review the smart meter plan or study the effects of the meters themselves on people.”
Those are not my words.
I am not sure if the PUC’s ruling was in fact a “backing.” I would never venture to make a guess as to what their positions were or are as of yet.
I am one of the lead complainants with CMP and the relationship that I have with the PUC is very important to me.
I would never want to speak for them or include them in an editorial.
Volunteers who shoveled snow for seniors thanked
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and heartily thank each and every volunteer who shoveled snow for all the elderly folks in the free Senior Snow-Shoveling Project all over Portland.
This was a particularly bad winter for storms of all sorts, and these shovelers’ deserve a great deal of appreciation for jobs well done!
The seniors really appreciate this service, and it makes their lives so much safer.
I would also like to thank the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for its financial and shoveling support. I could not run this project without both!
This year, 154 people who were 65 years of age or older were shoveled out for free.
Founder and Director
Free Senior Snow-Shoveling Project