November 20, 2012

A torrent of views on Portland homeless services

Ideas and opinions from a Portland council task force and a chamber group draw a vocal crowd to City Hall.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Nick Nicholson with Homeless Voices for Justice stands near pads that homeless people sleep on at shelters, as he and other advocates hold a vigil Monday evening outside Portland City Hall.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Donna Yellen of Preble Street holds a shelter mattress as she speaks to the council and challenges the notion that homeless people come to Portland for the services provided.

Gordon Chibroski

Additional Photos Below

The group didn't tackle the city's "assumed but not debated" policy of not turning away anyone who seeks shelter, Pringle said.

That policy, dating to 1987, was adopted in response to a homeless encampment erected at City Hall to protest the closing of a shelter.

"Most advocates are totally committed to this (low barrier) service model, but is the broader community committed to it?" asked Pringle. "(Mayor Michael Brennan) and the council represent the broader community, not just the constituency that are here in number tonight."

The council forwarded recommendations for retooling the emergency shelter system -- such as centralizing intake -- and increased case management to its Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee.

It referred recommendations for rapid rehousing -- such as developing three new housing complexes -- to the Housing and Community Development Committee.

The council may also create a group of task force members to track data and act as a resource for the council committees.

Brennan said he would like the committees to have recommendations ready for the council in May or June.

"I think we're going to have an opportunity to move forward and really make a difference," he said.

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings

 

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Additional Photos

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Beth Humstone, a board member of the Portland Downtown District, addresses the City Council on how Portland provides services to the homeless.

  


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