A Place To Call Home: Misconceptions Surrounding Homelessness

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Continuing our in-depth look at the homelessness crisis in the county called “A place to call Home”, There are many misconceptions and stereotypes around people experiencing homelessness. Newssource 8′s Corey Bouchard spoke with the people on the ground who are working with the homeless community about what they are actually seeing

Heidi Rackliffe - Director of Programs - ACAP “ We’ve had many individuals, we’ve seen nationwide we hear over and over again the amount of individuals who have been phased or know of someone who has been effected by substance use. this is not the time to point fingers, to say who is worthy and who is not worthy, these are human beings and we all have barriers and struggles and I hope we are not viewed from those barriers and struggles "

Mental Health and Substance Use are two of the factors most often associated with someone experiencing homelessness, but according to Harold Hull, the Residential Service Manager with the Homeless Services of Aroostook, the real factors are much more diverse.

Harold Hull - Residential Service Manager - HSA " Some of the factors I would say would be loss of job, some of them there is addiction and mental health that factor into it, they could have family conflicts, there’s actually quite a few family conflicts where they get kicked out”

One question Heidi Rackliffe, the Director of Programs at ACAP hears the most from community members is why do people who refuse to get treatment for mental health and substance use continue to get access to social services?

Heidi “It’s incredibly important to know that we cant force services on individuals, we cant mandate mental health treatment, substance misuse treatment for their ability to access services within their organization”

Lisa McLaughin, the CEO for Homeless Services of Aroostook says one other misconception is that all Homeless People are unemployed.  It is also often asked, how can people continue to be homeless when there are so many job opportunities in the County... She says the two topics aren’t necessarily related.

Lisa” Well we do have quite a few people who have jobs and are working, trying to save their money”

Harold ”I can testify that a large number of our residents do have jobs and they are working and many of them are trying to find jobs, and Just about every week I have a resident and say hey i got a job or I’ve got all these interviews lined up and they are looking and many of them do have jobs and they work very hard”

Lisa “There is a shortage on housing and apartments and it makes it very hard for them to move on”

In the next part of our series, we will explore how the lack of affordable rentals, and public housing plays into the homeless crisis in the county. Corey Bouchard, NS8