City Councilor Kimberly Cook asked voters what we think is “the right path forward” regarding the policy resolution for the planned emergency shelter. My response, as a resident of Bayside who has followed this process for years, is that the right path forward is forward.  

No single facility or policy is going to solve homelessness. We don’t face a choice of doing this or getting the state and other communities to do more. Both of those things must happen.

It’s appropriate for Portland to track numbers and compel the state and other communities to share responsibility and costs. The current resolution provides for this. As a taxpayer and someone who lives in community with people experiencing homelessness, I am more concerned about conditions that enable positive outcomes than about where people are from.

An inadequate facility doesn’t save money. We have that now, so we know. Infrastructure for intervention and preventive assistance for those at risk is an investment, which saves both lives and the money that pays for policing and emergency services when someone has hit a desperation point. I want my money to help people, not to fund the path to incarceration or the grave.

Councilor Cook thinks there’s “ample time to implement a new approach in Maine that ensures access to shelter.” It takes willpower to write a civil response to that. The Homelessness Prevention Task Force was seven years ago. New shelter planning started three years ago. It was below zero last week.

Lead forward, Portland.

Laura Cannon


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