From Kate Snyder, Portland, Maine <[email protected]>
Subject City Council to take up Reconsideration of Order to add 50 emergency shelter beds_Tomorrow
Date October 15, 2023 6:24 PM
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On October 16th, the Council narrowly rejected an option to add 50 emergency shelter beds. Tomorrow, we are being asked to reconsider that decision.

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October 15, 2023

Dear Portlanders,

Tomorrow, the City Council will be asked to Reconsider Order 37: the option to temporarily add 50 Emergency Shelter Beds at Portland's Municipal Homeless Services Center. Tomorrow's Council Agenda & Packet ([link removed])

If a majority of the Council agrees to reconsider - I will vote Yes.

At this moment, I believe we need more emergency shelter beds.
At last count - there were 282 tents.

On October 16th, I voted yes to Order 37 for these reasons:
* It presented an opportunity to - at least temporarily - gain 50 emergency shelter beds within a very short period of time, about 4 weeks, so that we could better respond to the crisis of people living outdoors in tents;
* In November, we expect to see a new, private shelter open at 166 Riverside Industrial Parkway. This new shelter is being designed and staffed to accommodate single asylum seekers; this means that about 100 beds currently occupied at the city's Homeless Services Center will open up;
+ 50 beds + 100 beds becomes 150 more beds than we currently have;
* It's getting cold; and with every day we delay response to the need for additional shelter beds, the longer people are left outside in the cold.
+ If the Council acts to add beds tomorrow, it will likely be the middle of November by the time 50 beds become available. 166 Riverside is expected to open sometime in November;
* I believe that I am obliged to think about all Portland stakeholders including our roughly 68,000 residents, our business owners, and the employees who work in Portland;
* I feel I also have a responsibility to people who do not have anywhere to go. In response to the people living outdoors, I want the city to do what we can: I want us to expand emergency shelter so that people who need a safe, dry, warm place to sleep - one with wrap around services - have access to one.

And - while we all agree that more housing is needed - the development of new housing takes time.
As I shared in my recent State of the City:
"From conception through review, construction, and a new home being occupied, realizing a new housing project can take multiple years"
Some approvals for affordable housing that were granted nearly four years ago have yet to break ground. Not anyone's fault: a variety of circumstances contribute to timing including financing, labor, supply availability, the list goes on...
We cannot wait for housing to solve the urgent need for emergency shelter.
(This doesn't mean that continued, enhanced and expanded municipal efforts to improve the landscape for housing development - and continue to innovate - aren't critical. They are. Housing is a Council Goal. That said, I see an urgent need and I'm looking for an urgent reply.)

The Encampment Crisis Response Team's Mission statement states that “Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and deserves access to safety, basic needs, shelter, and housing. Our goal is to resolve encampments by quickly connecting people to shelter and housing".

I believe 50 more beds - at this moment - will help.


Kate Snyder

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Mayor Kate Snyder . 389 Congress St . Portland, ME 04101-3566 . USA
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