I’m writing to express my concern at the proposed closure of the India Street Public Health Center, as well as the Portland Community Free Clinic and Needle Exchange.

As a property owner in this neighborhood, I’m very disappointed with the proposal to move the free clinic and transfer the India Street location’s other services to the private, nonprofit Portland Community Health Center. I’m also concerned that the City Council has never articulated a proper transition plan.

The population depending on India Street is the city’s most vulnerable and stigmatized; for them, even just the thought of seeking help can induce massive anxiety. But they do come to India Street: They know the staff there is approachable and friendly, and expert in evaluating, then providing, the assistance they need. This is why the India Street Public Health Center and free clinic have been so successful.

We see no evidence that the transition plan accounts for these factors, or even acknowledges how critical they are. In fact, the very staff that has built this trust would be dismissed Dec. 31. The effects of this change could be devastating – a rise in HIV and AIDS, dirty needle use and untreated addiction spreading.

The council has to balance a wide variety of issues and problems within a tight budget, and I respect the difficulty of their choices. But the transfer of the facility’s services presents problems for which we have not heard solutions.

We want the India Street Public Health Center and Portland Community Free Clinic in our neighborhood. We value the interaction with so many elements of our community, including those with difficulties and in need. We appreciate that our neighborhood feels like a safe place for the vulnerable to seek help. Isn’t that what Portland is?

Sean McVity

White Plains, New York, and Portland