Two more of Portland’s homeless encampments are set to be cleared on November 1 in addition to the one located in the Marginal Way Park and Ride.
The city has now posted removal notices at the encampments located by Somerset Street and near Noyes self-storage.
The Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT) announced earlier this month that they planned to clear the Park and Ride encampment — which is situated on state-owned land — by November 1.
Homeless encampments throughout Portland — but especially in the Park and Ride on Marginal Way — have been a cause of concern for residents and business owners alike.
Several business owners in the area have raised alarms about the safety of their customers and employees as a result of the camp’s presence — citing complaints over the discovery of human excrement on their property, as well as potentially dangerous interactions with those who were likely under the influence of drugs.
Those working on the ground with the homeless individuals living in these encampments have said that the city needs to slow things down because there is simply not enough shelter space for everyone.
Recent efforts to offer homeless individual accommodations, however, reveal that solving the crisis may not be as simple as creating additional housing.
Earlier this year, Portland invested roughly $65,000 in an effort to offer housing accommodations to about 100 of the city’s homeless residents, but only 18 accepted.
Consequently, those who rejected housing are no longer considered — legally speaking — to be voluntarily homeless.
It is unclear, however, whether or not this instance represents an exception to the rule among the city’s homeless population when it comes to their willingness to accept offers of housing.
Regardless, adequate shelter space is still not available to meet current housing needs.
Recognizing the crisis at hand, state lawmakers are poised to consider a number of bills aimed at finding solutions for the state’s growing homeless population when they reconvene early next year.
That said, the majority of the proposed legislation is actually geared toward the perpetuation of the encampments currently being cleared by city officials in Portland, as opposed to solutions that would provide safer and more sustainable alternatives for both Maine’s homeless individuals and those around them.
Portland’s efforts to “sweep” homeless encampments have come under fire by several advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union Maine and the Communist Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Public remarks from representatives of these organizations reveal a belief that the efforts to clear these camps are “inherently racist,” a threat to homeless individuals’ constitutional rights, and represent the “criminalization of homelessness.”
The Portland City Council has — multiple times now — rejected a proposal to add additional beds to the city’s largest homeless shelter.
After initially shooting down the idea in a 5-4 vote, the Council placed the proposition back onto the agenda for last week’s meeting.
Yet again, however, the move was defeated 4-4 — as Council rules dictate that a tie is to be considered a failure.
Councilor April Fournier — who previously had voted in favor of the measure — was absent from the meeting.
Councilor Regina Phillips switched sides on the issue, voting in favor of the measure last week after originally opposing it.
On November 13, the proposition will be considered by the Council for a third time, as the motion to permanently table the idea also failed in a 4-4 vote last week.
According to WGME, four beds recently opened up at the city’s homeless services center, all of which were filled by former denizens of the Park and Ride encampment. Sixteen other homeless residents have now moved into the city shelter.