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'Freedom Place' will house 38 women facing substance abuse, domestic violence & homelessness

The building on State Street in Portland will also provide job training and recovery services to residents.

PORTLAND, Maine — It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside; the opening of a new housing project is always a good day for the site’s developer. 

On Tuesday, dozens of Mainers gathered to celebrate the opening of Freedom Place, a 38-unit building for women facing substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness.

The project’s developer, Kevin Bunker, founder of Developers Collaborative, said this project meant a lot to him on a couple of levels.

“This was an opportunity to do something different and add a little diversity to the neighborhood and provide a service that is so much needed,” Bunker said. 

Freedom Place was named after Freedom Hamlin, who suffered a fatal opioid overdose in 2020. Bunker and Hamlin have a daughter, Alex, who spoke at Tuesday’s event.

A video with Alex played showing the property and featured a tribute to her mother. After it played, Alex addressed the crowd next door from Freedom Place at the Maine Irish Heritage Center and said she was glad her father involved her with this project. 

“I can’t say enough how thankful I am for that, and I know [our family is too], to have something in her memory and as a part of her legacy,” she added.

Along with the housing, Freedom Place will offer resource and recovery services and on-site job training to help residents get back on their feet. Bunker said it’s important to give folks in need of housing access to these services, or they won’t get the full help they need.

Credit: NCM

In about 18-months, Bunker will be completing another building project on the same lot as Freedom Place. The property will have 30 affordable apartments.

“Our hope is the women who come to Freedom Place to get sober will eventually get back on their feet and move into their own apartment, and hopefully that’s right next door because the services and support will still be right next door,” he said.

MaineHousing awarded 25 vouchers to Freedom Place to allow women experiencing homelessness to move in. Residents will begin the move-in process this week, and the building is expected to be full at the end of the month.

Gov. Janet Mills also attended Tuesday’s event and spoke to her experience of being in a violent relationship. 

Credit: NCM

“But I was one of the lucky ones. I escaped,” Mills said. “Having access to services is critical to the long-term recovery of women with [a] substance abuse disorder in Maine.”

The Legislature is working on multiple housing-related bills this session. 

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