Thanks to Portland City Manager Jon Jennings for continuing to seek viable municipal solutions to homelessness in Maine and beyond. The facilities at Oxford were never up to the task, and we’ve heard from clients staff and neighbors how cramped conditions create terrible results for all. If one municipality is to continue propping up the region and the state with zero collaboration – take any means to modernize!

Unfortunately Portland’s planning board was recently so desperate to approve any emergency shelter, they set a precedent that “bends” several code requirements that were intended to protect guests, staff and the host community. When Portland can finally build a service center to best practices – perhaps we may mark an end to this disgraceful backward looking era of patchwork retrofits for our friends in need.

Shame on the nearby wealthy municipalities in the region for their decades of passive abdication. Somehow even now, the Statewide Homeless Council debates whether localizing emergency response may be a “problem in search of a solution.” At least Cumberland County representatives tried to help provide distancing space on county property (located in Portland). Had they succeeded that could have become a starting point for collaborative solutions.

I know budgets are tapped all around. But we’ve been forcing Maine’s lowest social-economic community to self-segregate into a high-crime designated area, and we all know that’s not right. I support the way Portland goes above and beyond to do the right thing – but it will be so much better when all participate.

Jim Hall
Portland


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