The solution to solving the housing for the homeless is to provide the housing and services outside the city.

The former Pineland Center, for example, could have been remodeled to do this, but I don’t think it was even considered. Residents could have been working to provide their own food.

Centuries ago, it was a common practice to provide for the poor this way.

In Providence, R.I., such a farm once existed, and it was fenced in with a tall, well-constructed stone wall.

When it was determined to have outlived its usefulness, the land was sold to Brown University.

The money from the sale was set aside to be used to help provide for the poor in some way.

I haven’t been to Providence in more than 40 years, so I don’t know anything about their situation. However, I see Portland often, and can’t help but notice the deterioration of the inner city.

The merchants have a point.

The way things have been going has already hurt their businesses. Some businesses that were in downtown Portland for years decided to move out.

Now is the time to think outside the box for a solution.

Janice Doctor is a resident of South Portland.