Since Portland will now officially build the new homeless shelter on Riverside Street, how about a quick short-term solution on the same large site for our current homeless people?

Joe Lewis, a homeless Navy veteran, puts on winter boots at a Mobile Homeless Veterans Stand Down at Deering Oaks in Portland on Dec. 8, 2020. Military veterans like Lewis are among the many unhoused people who could live on Riverside Street while a full-service shelter is being built there. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer, File

Perhaps there could be an Army “MASH”-style setup on the same land, away from the shelter to be built. It could include a large “mess” tent for meals, a medical tent for emergencies and large sleeping tents with cots and heat. It would be better than our homeless sleeping in the parks and woods. It would be easy to transition the homeless to the new shelter once it opens.

I’m sure the Army has plenty of these portable structures for Portland to use until the new shelter is open. The Maine Army National Guard could set it up and dismantle it when it’s no longer needed. It would be fast to set up and help the homeless immensely through this cold winter and next, including all our U.S. military homeless veterans.

Peter Ferrante
Air Force veteran, Vietnam War
Portland

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