Cover Stories

A Safe Haven Under Pressure

By Magella Cantara & Kameron McGill

Congress_Street,_Portland_ME

Fox News recently had an interview with Laura Ingraham during which she alleged that Portland, Maine, is “overrun by asylum-seekers” and demanded that we “kick African immigrants out of our emergency homeless shelters.” Although we disagree with her, maybe we should be doing what we can to help all of Maine’s homeless population, including its immigrants.

Portland, Maine, is a little city with big-city problems. As students of Southern Maine Community College, residents of Portland and citizens of the state of Maine, it is important that light be shed upon some of the topics that affect our everyday lives.

Did you know that by the end of 2018, 90 percent of people using the Portland family shelter system were immigrants?

Due to a lack of affordable housing and harsh cold winters, Maine’s shelter system has provided shelter for many immigrants. But a change needs to occur in order to ensure that all citizens of Maine – including immigrants – are provided a safe place to rest their heads at night.

The statistics are sad but as the homeless population continues to swell, we are seeing these shelters increasingly overcrowded with many families that are unable to reserve a spot on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, the homeless population is rapidly escalating, which has resulted in a 3.1 percent increase in property tax for Maine’s residents. Due to a lack of access to affordable housing, far too many Maine families are at risk of becoming homeless.

No one should have to confront homelessness, but none of Maine’s residents should have to experience a lack of shelter due to a lack of available space.

Though it is evident that this problem cannot be resolved overnight, as a community it is essential that we recognize that the circumstances that impact Maine’s homeless population also affect everyone else that resides in this state.

As a country, we must stop brushing these issues under the rug. We must take collective action to remedy this serious social problem and the many other critical issues we face as a state.

By helping the homeless population rise out of poverty we can also fix many of Maine’s other pressing problems.

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