For Chronically Homeless Mainers, Housing First Can Be A Lifesaving Solution

Homelessness is a growing problem around the country, including here in Maine.

Portland is currently working through the long and contentious process of building a new emergency shelter where people who are homeless can access services and stay on a night-by-night basis until they are able to move on.

But for about 20 percent of the homeless population emergency shelters or longer-term solutions that mandate counseling or sobriety just don’t work.

For this population, a new approach has emerged: low-barrier, permanent housing with no strings attached. It’s called “Housing First” and experts say that as part of a larger strategy, it can save lives — and in many cases, money.

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