I am 100% behind Sarah Michniewicz in this race. She is smart, principled, rational, and hard working. She has been organizing in this community for decades now, on the ground level, and has a firm grasp not only of the issues that Portland faces, but of how city government works so that she can start working on day one. The learning curve can be steep when a new Councilor comes on board, but Sarah is ready to go and will hit the ground running.
City Council, District One: Sarah Michniewicz
Sarah has an independent mind and she will consider every issue that comes before her carefully and rationally. If I could hand pick someone for this seat, it would be Sarah. She is a really excellent candidate.
I recently received the email below from a constituent who, based on the information they had found at the Smaller Shelters website, was planning to vote for Option A on Question 1 on Portland's November 2021 ballot. At left below is the original constituent email; at right is my response; and below it all is the constituent's reply back.
I hope this exchange will encourage others considering Option A to reconsider their votes. It may also be helpful to take a look at the side by side comparison of Option A, Option B, and Option C.
For several years now, we've been working to replace the Oxford Street Shelter, and we are finally on the cusp of building a new Homeless Services Center at 638-654 Riverside Street that will do just that. The new, state-of-the art, 208-bed facility will be open 24/7 and it will finally provide those in our community experiencing homelessness the services they need in a spacious, welcoming, comfortable, secure, and dignified setting. This is a desperately needed facility with great community support.
National experts have been consulted and a great deal of community input has been received and incorporated. Read on to learn about our journey to this point, and why this service model is the right move for Portland.
The text below was published as a Maine Voices column in the Portland Press Herald online on October 15, 2021 and in the e-edition of the Press Herald on October 18, 2021.
Over the next month you’re going to see a lot of “smaller shelters” signs urging you to Vote A on Portland’s Question 1, but you should be wary. While the idea of “smaller shelters” may sound good in theory, Option A will actively harm people experiencing homelessness. That’s why groups like Preble Street’s Homeless Voices for Justice and advocates from organizations that work to prevent and end homelessness have spoken out against it.
Tonight at HHS & PS I expect we'll vote on a resolution that provides guidance to staff around the CIty's shelter policies. I'll post the resolution including that guidance once it's approved, but in the meantime, I wanted to let folks know where we are in our process to replace the aging and inadequate Oxford Street Shelter. I created the pdf below to help clarify the process to date, illustrate the process yet to come, and give people some basic information about the requirements the shelter will have to meet. Take a look!
At this point I'm sure many of you are aware that unprecedented numbers of people seeking asylum in the United States are arriving in Portland, Maine. I know there are disagreements about the role Portland should play in issues that ultimately require state and federal assistance and that people have different perspectives with regard to how the City should handle its Community Support Fund. We will be discussing those issues at our City Council meeting on Monday, June 17th, and public comment will be taken at that time.
Right now, however, we - as a city, a region, and a state - need to find a way to deal with the crisis at hand.
To that end the City of Portland is working with community partners, the American Red Cross, and the State Center for Disease Control & Prevention to operate a temporary emergency shelter at the Portland Expo. That facility opened on Wednesday, June 12th at 5pm.
Numerous people and groups have reached out to learn how they can help. If you are interested in volunteering or making donations to assist in this effort, here are some things you can do.
Thanks to all who have already reached out to learn how they can help!
One of the things I've always loved about Portland is how willing people are to get engaged with issues that are important to them. We are a tremendous community, folks. I'm very proud to call this City home.
Over the last two-and-a-half years we've been discussing homelessness in Portland front and center and in great detail at the HHS & PS Committee. We've had many difficult conversations to date, and I expect we have many more ahead.
That's why as we near a decision on the site selection for the new Homeless Services Center, I want to take a moment to celebrate some of the wonderful partnerships that have grown out of this process. Shining a light on the challenges of our current system has inspired multiple new community collaborations. These partnerships will help us, as a community, reach the goals set by the Council back in 2011 when it created a task force to develop a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in Portland, Maine. I'm pleased and proud that this process has helped move us closer to that aim.
After our most recent HHS & PS committee meeting on March 26th, I spoke with a resident who wanted to know how we’d gotten from a list of nearly 700 parcels to the 3 sites we are currently considering as potential locations for the city’s new Homeless Services Center. In response to her question, I decided to create a “Part Two” to my Micro-Timeline of the Oxford Street Shelter replacement process.
For Micro-Timeline: Part Deux, see below. Micro-Timeline: Part One exists here, and you can see both of them together, in one place, here. Happy reading.
As you are likely aware, the HHS & PS Committee is currently working through a list of potential sites for the city's new Homeless Services Center. This facility will replace the city's current facility for single adults experiencing homelessness, the Oxford Street Shelter, and it will likely have something in the neighborhood of 150 beds.
We're working hard to vet all of the potential locations in the city for this establishment and to choose the best possible location. To find out where we are in our process and how it is likely to proceed from here, read on.
Okay, so that's not exactly how John Lennon put it (and apparently Lennon wasn't even the one who first said it). But life did happen at our Health & Human Services and Public Safety committee meeting on Tuesday night, and it has altered our course as we seek to select a site for the new Homeless Services Center.
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