By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,125)
City shelters are straining to meet the needs of those who require shelter during this economic downturn which is expected to continue making a slow recovery in the State of Maine. To address this situation more fully, last November, Doug Gardner, Director, Health & Human Services Department for the city sent a memorandum and order to the city council establishing a task force to develop a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
According to the Order, the number of homeless in Portland has increased by twenty percent since the recession began in 2008 and thirty-four percent of all new shelter intakes are homeless for the first time.
The task force has met monthly since January, except for April, has been charged with coming up with a multi-year, measurable, strategic plan to reduce and end homelessness in Greater Portland. It has also been charged with focusing on access to healthcare services, suportive and affordable housing. This plan is to be provided to the City Council by June 5, 2012. Tri-Chairs of the Task Force are: Suzanne McCormick, President/CEO United Way of Greater Portland, Jon Jennings, President/General Manager, Maine Red Claws and Dory-Ann Waxman, former City Councilor.
To date, the task force met on January 24th, February 25th and March 29th. The next meeting is scheduled for May 9th.