letter to the editor

Governor needs to help the homeless

Mon, 03/06/2023 - 3:00pm

Dear Editor:

Our Governor needs to stop accepting refugees in Maine. Actual Mainers are homeless and we have no housing available. Some towns are paying up to $10k per month per room to house people in hotels. Isn’t this price gouging? Hotels that take vouchers are full. Shelters are full. Warming centers only stay open all night during “extreme” subfreezing temperatures.

Money is available but no actual housing for homeless Mainers to use it. DHHS and other entities give out lists of facilities they know are already full. As a General Assistance coordinator I tried to find lodging for a man who slept outside last night. I called other towns and every state, county, and local resource I could find. Nothing. A homeless coalition is handing out tents - when they aren’t closing early for snow. Let’s be real. It’s 10 degrees with 7 inches of snow. Better than nothing perhaps, but where does he pitch it?

There are rooms available for vacationers, but not for the homeless. The young man was excited because a major chain hotel agreed to take a voucher for two nights. I called. Yes, they would take the town’s guarantee for payment. However they failed to tell him they also wanted a $250 deposit for the room and a credit card on file to bill in case he caused damage. What town can do that? The hotel was making themselves look accommodating to the homeless, but that was not reality. They left it to me to tell him no. The unregulated short term rental situation in Maine doesn’t help either, but that’s another letter.

The young man is probably out in the snow again tonight. He is one of many falling through the cracks. I feel terrible that I can’t help him. We are pouring money into programs, it’s being grabbed by the greedy, and many Mainers in need never see it. The average citizen has no idea the money is not getting to people in need, but the Governor does. It is not helpful, it’s cruel. When will she provide actual help and make sure NO Mainers are left out in the cold?

Dawn Murray