An Update on the Tedford Housing Resource Center Project

To meet the growing needs in our community, Tedford Housing’s current plans remain the same: to build a facility that combines adequate shelter beds with key onsite community resources.

A comprehensive approach will result in the reduced risk of homelessness in the Brunswick area community, a faster return to housing stability for youth, adults and families, healthier households and increased self-sufficiency.

With that said, the next 3 – 4 months are critical to make our vision for the Tedford Housing Resource Center (THRC) a reality.

Where we are

On September 17, 2018, the Brunswick Town Council voted to extend a moratorium by six months that further prevents Tedford Housing from moving forward on its THRC project. This vote comes as a previous six month moratorium comes to an end on September 25th.

How we got here

While Tedford Housing was in the process of purchasing land for the THRC several months ago, it was found that the town of Brunswick did not include a definition of shelter housing in the recently drafted Brunswick Zoning Ordinance. As a result, the Brunswick Town Council, in conjunction with community stakeholders and the Planning Board, created a task force that guided the process of defining what a “homeless shelter” is and where one can be located in town.

The 3 member Shelter Task Force visited Tedford Housing’s current emergency facilities as well as a combined facility in Waterville. Meetings were held on many Wednesday afternoons, with presentations by staff, discussion amongst the task force members, and input from the public, including Tedford Housing. You can find more information the task force and their work on the Shelter Task Force website.

Where this vote leaves us

Though we are unable to move forward with our plans to consolidate our two emergency shelters and administrative offices in the location we had originally planned at 62 Pleasant Hill Road, we remain committed to serving our neighbors who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Once the updated zoning ordinance is finalized, Tedford Housing will continue to search for an appropriate site.

Next steps

The Shelter Task Force is expected to present its recommendations to the Planning Board and Town Council on October 1, 2018 (6:30pm at the council chambers on 85 Union Street, Brunswick). The tentative completion date for a final zoning ordinance decision is December 2nd. We hope the members of the town council and planning board will complete their work in less than six months.

What you can do

Talking points

  • Homelessness is a local challenge.
  • Some of our neighbors in Brunswick and the surrounding communities are, unfortunately, homeless often brought about by a single crisis event such as a car breaking down or a health emergency.
  • The current emergency housing facility capacity in the Brunswick area is inadequate to meet the need.
  • The communities and the Town of Brunswick do recognize the need and do recognize that the community and partners have a responsibility to create a system of services and facilities to provide “…refuge and a bridge between homelessness and residency in a suitable fixed location.”
  • A model of a homeless service system with services integrated with housing provides a much more productive pathway from homelessness to home, addressing its root causes.
  • Inappropriate and fear based profiling and creating a “class of people” is not doing justice to real people with real challenges.
  • Homeless is a temporary condition and does not define the person or the family.
  • A mental illness or a substance abuse disorder does not define the person or a class of people.

In the words of executive director, Craig Phillips:

“As the council and planning board proceed with their work, our hope is that the discussion focus on responsibly facilitating the development of shelter facilities, and recognize that programs such as Oasis Free Clinics, The Gathering Place and Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program are not burdens on the community but are valuable resources and assets for assisting the community to address and help real people with real needs.”

 

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