To the casual passer-by driving out Brighton Avenue toward Westbrook or the Maine Turnpike, the proposed site of Portland’s new homeless shelter on the Barron Center campus, in what seems to be an industrial and retail area, might seem appropriate. It is not. If you turn onto any of the many side streets, you will find large, densely populated residential neighborhoods and a large new elementary school.

On the Barron campus itself, you will find a large, newly renovated facility of senior housing apartments and the Barron Center, a city-owned nursing home. You will find guests and residents walking in the area and an adult day care for Alzheimer’s patients.

This is not an appropriate location for a new homeless facility.

I understand and support the need for better services and facilities for the homeless. I want the city and local communities to supply them and I am willing to pay taxes for them, but not in this type of area, no matter where that is. A report released in 2017 identified a number of parcels within the city limits appropriate for this purpose. I don’t believe that the Barron Center campus was one of them.

I say: Let’s go forward with new programs and facilities for the homeless, but in a more logical manner. There is great financial pressure on the city by developers to get this out of Bayside quickly and somewhere, anywhere, else. Let’s take the time to do it right, taking all factors into consideration.

Chris Sirpis
Portland