By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,262)
Last night the City Council accepted a report on Homelessness prepared by eighteen members of a task force it appointed and charged with developing a strategic plan to prevent homelessness for its endorsement a year ago. The Council unanimously and with little discussion accepted the report.
Although there appeared to be little dissent among the councilors, members of the public spoke for several hours presenting different points of view on the report and its ramifications to the business communty as well as to the homeless population. Chris O’Neil, lobbyist from the Portland Community Chamber said: “We support most of the details of the report. We do not ask for residency requirements. We have respect and gratitude for the good work done. Tonight’s acceptance is a good first step.” At an October 3rd meeting, Doug Fuss, owner of Bull Feeney’s Bar in the Old Port and president of the Portland Downtown District asked if Portland should be “treating people from other cities.” The answer to that question came from several legal authorities who stated that it has been decided by the US Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny the homeless from other regions needed assistance.
Anne Pringle, community activist from the West End of Portland, urged the city council to reject the report saying it needed a much larger dialogue than the 18 member task force provided. Numerous Bayside residents requested that the new housing called for in the report not be located in Bayside which is the epicenter of the city’s social services facilities. One Cedar Street resident said that “what we see in Bayside would not be tolerated in other neighborhoods,” she said referring to drug dealers and bad behaviors.
The often long-winded councilor John Anton did not disappoint. Among other things, he said the city does not abandon people in need who can’t take care of themselves. The report will be referred to several city committees; including housing and public safety. Their work is expected to be completed by May or June of next year and returned to the city council. Councilor David Marshall said that perhaps some short term solutions could be found for those forced to sleep in chairs rather than on mattresses because of their shortage.
For more background information, please visit Post # 1,226, dated 10/3/12 herein.