A July 13 front-page article about restaurants in Bayside struggling with transients not-so-subtly blamed the presence of those people on Preble Street. I suggest that the opposite is true.

In 1975, Preble Street was founded in Bayside because needy people were in Bayside. Since that time, Preble Street has used its outstanding volunteers, amazing staff and incredible programs to do everything it can do to help them out. The goal of Preble Street is not to increase the number of people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger and poverty, but rather to empower them, and to advocate for solutions so that the problems they face no longer exist.

If you are looking for the source of the despair and lack of hope that leads to self-medication and addiction or the reason behind the exponential increase of those in need, look beyond Portland to Augusta and Washington, where draconian cuts to mental health services, health care, education and anti-poverty programs were begun in the Reagan era and have been brought to an immoral extreme by current administrations.

Preble Street, faith communities and other agencies are working at full speed to respond. They are not the problem. They are the solution. They can’t, however, do it on their own.

Want to see fewer people on the streets? Do your part by both serving those in need and working to change the system so that they won’t be in need in the first place. Elect leaders who share your values. And, if you really want change, put your money where your mouth is by supporting those doing the work and – rather than continually asking for tax cuts – by being willing to pay what’s needed to adequately fund what needs to get done on state and national levels.

Benjamin Shambaugh

dean, St. Luke’s Cathedral; member, Preble Street board of trustees

Portland