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printable versionhomelessness news

Homeless shelter faces population explosion (Augusta, ME)
by KARLENE HALE - Capital Weekly News Monday October 21, 2002 at 09:48 PM

Imagine for a moment that you live in a farmhouse with enough room for six or seven family members. Then your home must expand to accommodate 16 adults and children; and ultimately, there are 23 people living there with four more to come.

That's what the homeless shelter run by Bread of Life Ministries
is facing right now as more and more people in desperate need of
roofs over their heads cram into ever-diminishing space.

"We've just seen a huge influx of families. We have seven
families - 23 people, including 15 children - here this morning,
and another family of four is coming tonight," John Applin,
executive director of Bead of Life said Tuesday morning.

"We're putting mattresses on the floor. We're doubling up kids in
beds. We're cramming people into all kinds of spaces," he said.

The third floor of the shelter on Hospital Street has been turned
into extra rooms, with a storage closet converted into a bedroom.
And eight people are living in two small bedrooms on the third
floor, in rooms designed for one person.

Applin said the shelter continues to draw high numbers of people,
far more than last year.

"September was busier than last year. And October is going
through the roof," he said as he tried to figure out where to put
everyone Tuesday night.

The shelter has one kitchen where 27 people would try to fix
meals Tuesday evening and for several nights thereafter.

"We have never had so many children before," he said. "The most
we ever had was seven. Now we have 17. It's the equivalent of a
school room full of kids. And we have to try to enroll them in
school, make sure the buses stop here, make sure they get up on
time..." he said.

Applin has no real explanation for the explosion of homeless
people seeking shelter at the Augusta location. But he knows if
he tries to turn people away, they won't be able to find another
place to stay because all the other shelters across the state are
full as well, he said.

"We can turn them away. But that becomes a moral issue for us.

We call other shelters in Bangor, Lewiston, and Portland, but
they're usually full. And then transportation becomes a problem,
because most of our people don't have transportation. Our staff
has all it can do to drive people to services within Augusta without
having to drive a family all the way to Lewiston or Portland," he said.

About 35 percent of residents live in Augusta or did originally,
Applin said. Others come from outside the city, he said.

The immediate reasons cited for homelessness almost always
include eviction, job loss or mental illness, Applin said.

"We're seeing more and more single women with children. And the
story is always that the boyfriend left and she can't afford the
apartment alone, so they were evicted," he said.

The real reason for homelessness is far more insidious.

"The underlying cause is the breakdown of the family. And that's
something we've been seeing for 20 years. Many people had no
moral upbringing. They got pregnant at 15, dropped out of school,
and now they have three children and can't make ends meet with
the jobs they have. It becomes a question of survival," Applin said.

The women tend to rely upon a succession of live-in boyfriends
who almost always take off, leaving the woman not only with
another child, but no way to get by, Applin said.

"If you look at the trends, through the last six years when the
economy was booming, we still had higher numbers," he said.

The housing crunch is in part to blame as real estate values soar
and fewer and fewer low-income people can afford housing, he
said. And the amount that people need to earn to sustain a decent
standard of living has increased as well, Applin said.

"Single mothers with no education and two or three children might
earn $8 an hour, but that just isn't enough," he said.

People who come to the shelter reluctant to draft a personal plan
for overcoming homelessness can stay up to seven nights. Those
who are working on a plan to combat poverty and lack of housing
can remain for a month. The maximum stay is 45 days, although
rarely does anyone meet that, Applin said.

"The personal plan includes trying to find permanant housing, services
such as job training, education, life skills, and independence - whatever
it takes to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness that is all some
of them have ever known," he said.

The full budget for Bread of Life's shelter, soup kitchen and
other services is $200,000 a year. The shelter receives grants
from the Maine State Housing Authority, but the money is based
upon occupancy for the past year.

That means the increase in shelter use being seen now won't be
reflected in grant money until next year.

Bread of Life is opening some single rooms around the city and
has a project on Orchard Street to provide three units with three
bedrooms each for families.

As for how things are going right this minute, "We're making do,"
Applin said.


ęCapital Weekly 2002

add your comments


Mr.
by Ken Bragg Sunday December 29, 2002 at 06:23 PM
yourbrotherken@YAHOO.COM 207 933 9510 1165 mAIN STREET

Not all Homeless shelter are overcrowded because of
the many homless people.
Consider a Married couple back living in Augusta's
Bread of Life shelter. They are what we would call "professional homeless". The people who I am refering to gobble up services and limted resorses ment for those in need. This certain couple gave up there jobs in Augusta area a few months ago, stayed in Bangor for a few weeks
and won the coverted prize of a free housing voucher.
They went to work at a local fast food chain for a few weeks untill the rent came due. Then dismayed at having to clean the loby of one of the fast food resterants where the wife worked, they drove home to stay with the mother of the wife stretching their limited income. They worked a very few weeks, never offering to help pay for any of the expensives even after they had corned the DHS for food stamps, they bought a pick-up truck, drove it to Machias on faults licence plates and stayed with friends and family until they wore out their welcome there. So off to centeral Maine they came once again and lived rent free for another three weeks with mom while the husband worked and praised the Lord, until he got his first pay check and serveal hundred dollers worth of food stamps. They would much rather "Pay their way", so off to Hope Haven Homeless Shelter in Lewiston Maine they go, because their wasn't any room for them at the time in Augusta. they hated it because they found out that there were no more "family rooms available" then
after a few days, they once again came back home with mother for a few more days but bag to Hope Haven
waiting to win the prize of another subdised housing voucher. "Opps," they can recieve a room for two with
better service here in Augusta at the bread of life shelter. Meanwhile they only have to stay a week and
win the coveted "Voucher" a months free rent? All this while there are many familys with children waiting for a place to restart.
While this couple free-load of the sytem . What about those in real need? What about the three day vactions they spend away from the shelter? who pays for them? WHO??????
This guy is working at a palet mill in Leeds unless he quits his job for a better shelter deal, AGAIN. Meanwhile Maine's shelters are overcrowded with real needy and unfunded ot help family's rebuild. Yup, there still there
eating free meals, selling their foodstamps or spending them on ever kind of chip imagine and squeezeable blue margarine. I really think someone in top authorty should check into this.........................

add your comments


Mr.
by Ken Bragg Sunday December 29, 2002 at 06:24 PM
yourbrotherken@YAHOO.COM 207 933 9510 1165 mAIN STREET

Not all Homeless shelter are overcrowded because of
the many homless people.
Consider a Married couple back living in Augusta's
Bread of Life shelter. They are what we would call "professional homeless". The people who I am refering to gobble up services and limted resorses ment for those in need. This certain couple gave up there jobs in Augusta area a few months ago, stayed in Bangor for a few weeks
and won the coverted prize of a free housing voucher.
They went to work at a local fast food chain for a few weeks untill the rent came due. Then dismayed at having to clean the loby of one of the fast food resterants where the wife worked, they drove home to stay with the mother of the wife stretching their limited income. They worked a very few weeks, never offering to help pay for any of the expensives even after they had corned the DHS for food stamps, they bought a pick-up truck, drove it to Machias on faults licence plates and stayed with friends and family until they wore out their welcome there. So off to centeral Maine they came once again and lived rent free for another three weeks with mom while the husband worked and praised the Lord, until he got his first pay check and serveal hundred dollers worth of food stamps. They would much rather "Pay their way", so off to Hope Haven Homeless Shelter in Lewiston Maine they go, because their wasn't any room for them at the time in Augusta. they hated it because they found out that there were no more "family rooms available" then
after a few days, they once again came back home with mother for a few more days but bag to Hope Haven
waiting to win the prize of another subdised housing voucher. "Opps," they can recieve a room for two with
better service here in Augusta at the bread of life shelter. Meanwhile they only have to stay a week and
win the coveted "Voucher" a months free rent? All this while there are many familys with children waiting for a place to restart.
While this couple free-load of the sytem . What about those in real need? What about the three day vactions they spend away from the shelter? who pays for them? WHO??????
This guy is working at a palet mill in Leeds unless he quits his job for a better shelter deal, AGAIN. Meanwhile Maine's shelters are overcrowded with real needy and unfunded ot help family's rebuild. Yup, there still there
eating free meals, selling their foodstamps or spending them on ever kind of chip imagine and squeezeable blue margarine. I really think someone in top authorty should check into this.........................

add your comments


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