A new homeless shelter is opening in Portland Tuesday

It’s called “Elena’s Way,” named after a Preble Street worker who has dedicated her life to helping others. Sam Chamberlain is the assistant director. He gave WMTW a tour of the new 40-bed facility located inside the former Preble Street Resource Center, which closed during the pandemic. The facility has been completely repurposed. There are real beds, instead of mats on the floor. the open space is sectioned off with half-walls to give clients some privacy. There are showers, and a cafe, and everything will be open 24 hours a day. Chamberlain said there will be social workers and clinicians on-site. He said a light bulb went off when Preble Street opened a temporary wellness center at USM’s Sullivan Gymnasium during the height of the pandemic.”Individuals who accessed the wellness center at USM were able to stabilize as a result of having access to a bed 24 hours a day and then being able to engage in casework and take the next step,” Chamberlain said. That is what Elena’s way will be modeled after. Portland’s homeless problem is much bigger than 40 beds. The city’s new Homeless Service Center, now under construction out in the Riverside neighborhood, is coming along with an expected opening date of March 2023. The new shelter is expected to assist at least 200 people. At Deering Oaks on Monday, some of the city’s homeless population gathered in the rain. Peter and Samantha Hoyt said they heard about Elena’s Way but said they are skeptical of all shelters. They were pleased to hear that the new shelter would allow couples, unlike most other shelters in town. WMTW asked if they would go to the new shelter.”We might not have a choice,” said Peter Hoyt. “Right now, we’re bunking with friends and we’re paying rent with them renting a room. It gets costly. We’re both on fixed income,” said Samantha Hoyt.As Elena’s Way plans for a low-key opening Tuesday , workers know they can’t help everybody at once. They also admit this is just a small step forward.”We would love to see many more Elena’s Ways and wellness shelters pop up in the community, and we see this as a potential model for what shelters could look like in the future,” Chamberlain said.

It’s called “Elena’s Way,” named after a Preble Street worker who has dedicated her life to helping others. Sam Chamberlain is the assistant director. He gave WMTW a tour of the new 40-bed facility located inside the former Preble Street Resource Center, which closed during the pandemic. The facility has been completely repurposed. There are real beds, instead of mats on the floor. the open space is sectioned off with half-walls to give clients some privacy. There are showers, and a cafe, and everything will be open 24 hours a day.

Chamberlain said there will be social workers and clinicians on-site. He said a light bulb went off when Preble Street opened a temporary wellness center at USM’s Sullivan Gymnasium during the height of the pandemic.

“Individuals who accessed the wellness center at USM were able to stabilize as a result of having access to a bed 24 hours a day and then being able to engage in casework and take the next step,” Chamberlain said.

That is what Elena’s Way will be modeled after. Portland’s homeless problem is much bigger than 40 beds.

The city’s new Homeless Service Center, now under construction out in the Riverside neighborhood, is coming along with an expected opening date of March 2023. The new shelter is expected to assist at least 200 people.

At Deering Oaks on Monday, some of the city’s homeless population gathered in the rain.

Peter and Samantha Hoyt said they heard about Elena’s Way but said they are skeptical of all shelters. They were pleased to hear that the new shelter would allow couples, unlike most other shelters in town. WMTW asked if they would go to the new shelter.

“We might not have a choice,” said Peter Hoyt. “Right now, we’re bunking with friends and we’re paying rent with them renting a room. It gets costly. We’re both on fixed income,” said Samantha Hoyt.

As Elena’s way plans for a low-key opening Tuesday, workers know they can’t help everybody at once. They also admit this is just a small step forward.

“We would love to see many more Elena’s Ways and wellness shelters pop up in the community, and we see this as a potential model for what shelters could look like in the future,” Chamberlain said.

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