Sanford is partnering with a number of service providers to establish a temporary Resource Hub next month to assist the city’s homeless population. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD – The city and several provider agencies will set up a temporary Resource Hub next month in a bid to connect Sanford’s homeless population to services that can help them change their situation.

The Resource Hub tent is expected to go up around Sept. 4 and be available through Sept. 30.

City Manager Steve Buck told the City Council on Tuesday that the hub tent, to be situated on the grounds of York County Community Action Corporation on Spruce Street, was brought forward during city staff discussions with a number of service agencies. Those invited to be part of the Resource Hub include YCCAC, York County Shelter Programs, Nasson Health Care, Southern Maine Health Care, Enso Recovery, Sweetser and Opportunity Alliance.

“The first line approach is to make the connection with individuals, establish a rapport of trust, and then connect them to currently available resources and services to address their specific need,” said Buck.

Sanford established a Homeless Task Force three weeks ago that includes city staff and area service providers as well as a team from Sanford Police Department. Headed by Det. Eric Small, a certified recovery coach who is who is assigned full-time, the police team also includes four other officers who work part-time with the homeless through Oct. 1.

The police department team has been visiting the camps, checking on those who live there and doing what they can to encourage change. The team  has assisted homeless people with securing and getting to medical appointments, following up, securing shelter, and with everything from finding footwear to helping people get identification cards and more. There have been conversations about next steps.

Small estimated Sanford’s homeless population at about 40, with about 20 of them living in encampments in various Sanford locations and the rest “coach surfing” – staying with friends or family but having no secure home.

“Trust is one of the largest issues and they don’t trust other people to aid them or get them to services, “ Buck told the City Council on Tuesday. “Trust is being established. We hold great hope the resource hub is the next primary connection point.”

Buck said for some of the city’s homeless population, the trust issue and coming back into society is overwhelming.

There has been some early successes and there have been some disappointments – one individual returned to the homeless camp after receiving shelter and services elsewhere. But another homeless person was expected to be headed for a shelter today, said Small.

“The majority are not there for the first time,” Buck told the council of those living  in the homeless camps.

He said the goal is to have the homeless population fully assessed and connected with available resources by Oct. 1.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann asked how those who have expressed a willingness to help can do so.

Buck recommended those who wish to help contact the volunteer coordinator at York County Community Action Corporation, rather than make individual efforts.

Deputy Mayor Lucas Lanigan said citizens are dealing with some of the issues he  says have  resulted from the homeless population.

“We have citizens that aren’t homeless that do pay taxes and have businesses,” he said. “And they are dealing with some repercussions of the homeless situation, from vandalism at their businesses, defecation in the  forest,  not being able to use parking lots or areas of our city.”

Lanigan said he was out at 1 a.m. the previous morning and saw four people “just hanging out in the middle of the parking lot like it was their living room couch.”

“Is there any more enforcement as to where they can set up their camps and how they’re acting out in public when they’re in our community?” asked Lanigan.

The city has been concentrating on solutions and said the Resource Hub will be activated soon, Buck said.

“I assume at the end of this process there will be a handful of people not taking advantage of these services, and hard decisions will have to be made,” Buck said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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