PORTLAND, Maine — After years of discussion and debate, the City of Portland is prepared to open its new Homeless Services Center. On Wednesday, city leaders and project developers held a grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new facility.
"This is really about serving people the way that they need to be served," Portland Mayor Kate Snyder said.
The new 208-bed facility on Riverside Street in Portland's Riverton neighborhood will replace the city's aging Oxford Street Shelter, which the city leased and only had space for 154 individuals.
The new Homeless Services Center (HSC) will include wraparound services including health and mental health care, substance use treatment, housing assistance, peer support, case management, employment assistance, and more.
"It's really going to be able to completely transform the way we are able to provide services here on site. Having the clinic on site from greater Portland health, and then having all of our partners not only be able to be on-site and provide services, but have staff who are based here on site, it's going to be remarkable," Portland Health and Human Services Director Kristen Dow said.
Nonprofits and organizations that work closely with unhoused individuals will have staff located on-site, including Preble Street, Amistad, the Opportunity Alliance, and Greater Portland Health.
The City of Portland broke ground on the $24 million project about one year ago.
Brian Bingham is currently experiencing homelessness and has stayed at the Oxford Street Shelter for the last six months. He said he hopes to have a new housing opportunity coming in the next few weeks, but said after seeing the new facility, it'll be a big improvement.
"It'll be more comfortable for the people staying here. I really think it'll just expand and let people have peace of mind," Bingham said.