CAPE ELIZABETH — I’m pleased, and I am sad.

I’m pleased because there has been such an outpouring of support for the asylum seekers in Portland. Whether it’s the political, financial, corporate or volunteer response, Portland remains a location that has not forgotten its soul.

But I’m sad, too. I’m sad that the same level of engagement from politicians, banks, companies, landlords and volunteers is absent toward the many people who are without homes.

I don’t live in Portland, but I work out there, eat there, shop there and, yes, drive there every, single day. Yes, I spend a LOT of money in the city each year.

During these times, I see homeless people – families, veterans and singles – everywhere. Whether I’m at Silly’s on the Hill or 557 on Congress, it’s hard to ignore this sad visual aesthetic in this great city. Where are the free trips to the Head Light for the homeless? Where is the robust response of a period of rent-free housing for these individuals? My God, the veterans alone, on average, comprise over 10 percent of our nation’s homeless. Where is the outpouring of substance abuse support? Mental illness counseling?

Nearly $900,000 raised in private donations for the asylum seekers? Can you even imagine …

We have a governor with a heart – just how far does her heart stretch? I’ve heard nowhere near as many comments from her (and other politicians) about Portland’s homeless as I’ve heard from Maine’s politicians about the urgency of supporting the asylum seekers. These should not be mutually exclusive items on a culture’s agenda.

I haven’t done so, but I bet if I surveyed my own town of Cape Elizabeth, the majority of residents would support giving a portion of the ridiculous fees at Fort Williams to assist Portland’s homeless. After all, homelessness transcends community location; it’s a preventable tragedy that should demand the attention of everyone. But in Cape Elizabeth, like so many other communities, as long as homeless people are not standing in front of the IGA or CVS, the town is assumed to have homelessness under control.

In this short opinion piece, I won’t be arrogant enough to provide the solutions to homelessness. But I think that anyone reading this can donate their time, resources and money – in the same way that Portland has done so for the 70 families in the Expo. I would, however, recommend that be one of your first steps toward helping. My own donations to this great organization over the years could never match what has been given to the asylum seekers. Yet the sheer number of those needing food and essentials is much more overwhelming than the 300-plus migrants who recently arrived in the city.

I would hate if anyone believes that I’m pitting one group against the other. This issue is a “both-and,” not an “either-or,” and I hope my words would stimulate action on behalf of those who have struggled in our communities on a daily basis – for years.

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