2018-04-13 / Opinion

Give Them Shelter

EDITORIAL

Everyone should be afforded the basic dignity of a bed on which to sleep at night.

For many homeless people in the Brunswick area, that’s not possible, as seen by the high rates of which people are turned away from Tedford Housing’s shelters because there simply isn’t room.

“The reality is that more than 336 individual adults approached Tedford Housing for assistance in 2017 and only 64 could be directly helped with shelter housing,” Tedford’s board wrote in a recent guest column in The Times Record. “And we are only able to shelter about 10 percent of families requesting access, turning away an average of 24 families per month. Our community needs more shelter beds, and our neighbors who face the challenges of homelessness need to be supported in building skills, support networks, and income and to have assistance in finding a permanent place to live in order to thrive.”

And Tedford can’t expand its aging facilities in downtown Brunswick — that area of town has become increasingly expensive. (For example, rent for a less than 1,000-square-foot apartment at the newly constructed Brunswick Station Apartments — only a couple of blocks from Tedford Housing’s Middle Street shelter — is about $1,500.)

Tedford’s plan to provide more beds and consolidate operations at a new resource center on the corner of on the corner of Baribeau Drive and Pleasant Hill Road — outside of the downtown — is coming under fire.

After learning certain facets weren’t permitted under current zoning, the Town Council recently passed a 50-day moratorium on building such a facility, and may extend that by another six months.

And then there’s the Baribeau Drive/Pleasant Hill Road neighborhood coalition.

That coalition “sees that there is a need and recognizes that we have a social responsibility to help individuals less fortunate than us,” according to spokesman Jim Bridge.

But apparently, the coalition doesn’t want to meet that need in their neighborhood.

Asked by a Times Record reporter if he wants the center at the current proposed site, Bridge said, “I think the answer is no, it’s not the right place.”

We say that the proposed location is still close enough to the downtown to make sense, and closer still to other services, such as Mid Coast Hospital Addiction Resource Center on Baribeau Drive. But we wouldn’t bet on Tedford’s plans coming to fruition. Everyone wants to help the homeless. Just not in their neighborhood.

While the town tinkers with its zoning and neighbors find reasons why it won’t work at the proposed location, more folks who need a bed for the night will find themselves turned away.

So much for social responsibility.

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