When it comes to Portland’s Question 1, the so-called “Smaller Shelters” referendum, I write to encourage voters to support the essential dignity of people experiencing homelessness by voting for option C – “no” to both of the proposed changes to the city code.

In our work at Spurwink, we see every day how the pandemic has only heightened community need.

Portland’s existing facilities were not designed for and are insufficient to meet current demand. The proposed homeless service center will improve service delivery, provide opportunities for enhanced collaboration with community providers, and generate better outcomes for people struggling with homelessness. Both the city and developers have worked closely with people experiencing homelessness and local providers, including Spurwink, in the development of this project. It will be a space that validates the worth of the people it serves. Defaulting to smaller shelters would be administratively and financially unsustainable and hurt the people we are working to serve.

The plan approved by the Planning Board for the new homeless service center  best meets the critical community need. We respectfully ask Portland voters to choose option C on Question 1 and help the city move forward with the soundest plan to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

Eric Meyer
President & CEO, Spurwink

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