Former Homeless Vet Hero to Homeless on Marginal Way; Bullied by MaineDOT


Jim Smith and Gary Fisher, Evicted from Marginal Way Prepare to Move Their Belongings to Commercial Street.

Some of the State DOT Employees at the Marginal Way Site Today. When This Blogger Asked a MaineDOT Official how many State Employees were on the Job, He Said He Had no Idea.  He Threatened to Call the Police if This Blogger Took a Photo of Him in his MaineDOT Car.  He Pretended to  Call for Police Presence Before Speeding off the Site in His State Car.

“If I hadn’t paid for their moving expenses  from Marginal Way to Commercial Street. they would have lost all of their personal possessions that they need to survive,” said Bill Higgins today on the telephone.  Commercial Street has been the site of a growing homeless encampment over the recent weeks as Portland refuses to addess the issues of the homeless except by “Sweeps.”

Bill was referring to his renting a U-Haul truck yesterday morning for two days to  transport the belongings of the evicted homeless from Marginal Way to West Commercual Street.   He also hired four homeless people at $15.00 per hour to assist in carrying belongings to the truck and then unloading them on West Commercial Street – across from the EIMSKIP Shipping Company.

Bill told this blogger that since yesterday the U-Haul truck and his temporary workers had made ten (10) truck trips from Marginal Way to Commercial Street –  packed with the belongings of people “swept” from Marginal Way. Not only did he come up with the money to rent the U-Haul and his  temporary workers,  but also shelled out $58. for gas for the truck trips. and $100. for boxes in which the homeless could pack their belongings for the move. This all takes a big chunk from his monthly disability check.  So he has set up a Go Fund Me account.

Lisa Wildes was “swept” from Marginal Way this morning.  She said that Bill Higgins stopped by yesterday to see how many people needed his assistance in moving their belongings to Commercial Street.  “He’s amazing.  He’s awesome.  I don’t know what I would have done without his assistance in moving me here,” she said.  This is her third move within the city of Portland because of sweeps conducted by the state and city jointly.  “Where will we go next?” she asked as many were asking the same question aloud.

Jim Smith said that he has a full-time job in Portland.  But it doesn’t pay him enough to afford the high rents in Portland.  He could have moved into the newly opened Riverton Shelter.  But the Shelter shuts down and does not admit people before his job ends – not giving him time to get out there and meet its closing time.  Jim was waiting in a short line for the Higgins U-Haul truck to arrive and pick up his belongings and that of his friend Gary Fisher to transport them to Commercial Street.  “It’s like where are we supposed to go next?” he asked.  City hall remains mum.

Bill Higgins knows about being homeless.  He has been homeless four times, although he is not currently.  Higgins, 62, graduated from the US Naval Academy. Following that he was admitted into the nuclear submarine training program in Groton, Connecticut. But depression overtook him and his life as it can.  Rather he has found a different purpose in his life – helping to improve the lives of others because he has “been there.”