November 4, 2011

Portland mayoral candidates
tackle homeless issue

By Jason Singer jsinger@pressherald.com
Assistant City Editor / Online

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

John Chapman Jr. is homeless in Portland.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

MORE ABOUT PORTLAND'S MAYORAL RACE

You can learn more about all the candidates in the Portland Mayor Race 2011 special section.

The city also contributes hundreds of thousands of more dollars in grants to programs like its Healthcare for the Homeless clinic. Since July, it has also had to house many families in hotels at night because of a lack of space in the family shelter, said Nicole Clegg, the city's spokesperson.

Rathband said the city needs to work with surrounding communities on a regional plan, since it helps many residents from those communities.

Candidates Hamza Haadoow and Charles Bragdon said they'd like to start an internship program with local businesses, where the homeless can acquire jobs skills and build their resumes.

Rathband and Strimling said the homelessness is a symptom of the economy. Strimling cited a 15 percent vacancy downtown as evidence. "The majority of homeless people in shelters are there because they're poor," Strimling said. "If we create an economy with better and stronger jobs, we're going to move people off the street."

Firefighter and candidate Chris Vail said during his time working for the city, he sees the police, fire department, hospitals and shelters pass some homeless around multiple times per day.

He admits to not having any solutions. But he said groups passing people on to the next agency isn't sustainable, and as mayor, he'd encourage them to meet and figure out long-term solutions.

"There's definitely solutions out there," he said. "Why we haven't gotten everyone together before and had a serious conversation doesn't make sense."

Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or: jsinger@mainetoday.com

 

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