Last week, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold an ordinance banning people from sleeping or camping in public spaces. Over the past few years, poverty has become increasingly visible in Portland. A walk through downtown Portland reveals many homeless people living on our streets.

Poverty is often invisible, which is part of why homeless encampments in and around Portland are so contentious. As a community, we need to be more proactive on poverty and homelessness. We must advocate for and implement comprehensive programs that address the root causes of poverty, offering real hope and solutions to those in need.

To those who argue that many homeless people do not want help, I say it is not about a lack of desire for help, but rather the accessibility and adequacy of the help being offered. Many face significant barriers to accessing assistance, such as mental health issues, transportation or insufficient information about available help. The real problem isn’t homelessness itself, but the absence of effective poverty programs that can break the cycle.

These folks are Mainers, too, and should be extended the same warmth and grace as anyone else.

As someone who works with The Borgen Project, an organization dedicated to addressing global poverty, I see firsthand the impact of effective poverty alleviation programs. With the right resources and community support, we can make a significant difference in the lives of those struggling with homelessness in Portland.

Anna Kuell
South Portland

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