When I moved to the area and joined Tedford Housing in January 2020, the community graciously welcomed me with open arms. And then the pandemic changed all of our lives. Community members stepped up, without us even needing to ask, to provide meals, in-kind donations, and monetary gifts that helped us to keep our doors open 24-hours a day at our adult housing, support our families with additional resources needed because of school closings, and enhance our outreach to help keep people from entering homelessness.

Still, for the last 18 months, Tedford Housing has been forced to operate at a reduced capacity at our adult housing, limiting our ability to help some of the most vulnerable residents of our community at a time when they need it most. Last year, we served 38 individual adults and 15 families in our emergency housing program. But we had to turn away 321 adults and 83 families with 98 children because we just didn’t have room for them.

We are often asked who uses our emergency housing services.

Remember the man stocking the shelves at the grocery store during the pandemic who made a special trip to the backroom to see if there were any packages of toilet paper tucked into a corner? He was staying at our emergency housing.

Or how about the young mother who takes your carryout order from the restaurant downtown? She was staying at our family building.

And the young man who does your oil change every 5,000 miles? He is living in our adult emergency housing.

The older woman who was the receptionist at your doctor’s office that you liked so much? She stayed with us for several months after her husband died.

If you believe these people and everyone else in our community is entitled to the right to a safe, secure place to sleep at night and the wrap-around services necessary to connect them to a permanent place to live, we hope you will make your voice known in favor of our plans for an emergency housing building.

For more than 30 years, Tedford Housing has served the greater Brunswick region as the sole provider of emergency housing and supportive services that empower people to move from homelessness to home. And, for nearly a decade, we have struggled with aging buildings and hoped to replace them with a building better suited to addressing our guests’ needs.

We outgrew our existing adult and emergency housing facilities long ago, and are now planning to build a new facility that will replace those aging buildings. Our plans are for a modest increase in our current adult emergency housing capacity from 16 to 24 beds and the family emergency capacity from 6 families to 10 families. Through the replacement of our aging and poorly configured existing buildings, coupled with the moderate increase in the capacity of our emergency housing program, we will be able to significantly enhance our ability to serve people who are experiencing homelessness.

Having all staff and guests in a single location will cut wait times for guest services, provide for improved communication among Tedford Housing’s guests and employees, and enhance case management and emergency housing assistance for our guests.

We selected a site on the northeasterly side of Thomas Point Road in Brunswick because it is easily accessible for our guests, and is in close proximity to a variety of resources, including the hospital and other health care facilities, employment opportunities, transportation access, retail and other businesses. This location near Cook’s Corner will allow Tedford Housing to closely collaborate with safety net agencies, health care providers, organizations, and community groups to prioritize and address housing needs and service connections for our guests.

We need you to help us finally make our dream of new emergency housing to serve the community a reality. Please participate in an upcoming public hearing before the Brunswick Planning Board on our application to replace Tedford Housing’s existing aging facilities with a new building on Thomas Point Road. The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28 beginning at 7 p.m. The public is invited to testify in person at Town Hall, online, or to submit written testimony to [email protected]

I am excited to talk with anyone who is interested in learning more about our plans. Please call me at (207) 729-1161, ext. 102 or email [email protected]

Rota L. Knott is the executive director of Tedford Housing. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community. 

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