A Place To Call Home: How Affordable Housing Plays into the Homelessness Crisis

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Accessing safe and affordable housing is one of the biggest barriers for people struggling with Homelessness. In this segment of “A Place to Call Home” Corey Bouchard breaks down what we are currently seeing, and what can be done to assist people in need.

Harold Hull " They are looking and many of them do have jobs and they work very hard but it’s just finding affordable housing thats the problem”

Affordable housing can take on many forms says Jennifer Sweetser, the executive director of the presque isle housing authority.

Jennifer Sweetser " How to solve that problem, it’s just a complex problem that has many aspects to it”

One aspect includes the financial barriers that go into attaining housing, many people struggling to get by find it difficult to save the required fees necessary to move into a place, there are a number of places such as ACAP, and Homeless Services of Aroostook that are available to help with that barrier.

Lisa " For people trying to get into a rental we can do a first months rent and a security deposit so that kinda gives them a little cushion so theyre not struggling right off the bat”

There is also public and subsidized housing as options, but Sweetser says the wait for those can be lengthy.

Jen “ we obviously do have a waiting list, people have been on our list for over a year and a half at this point in time.”

Once a person does receive a housing voucher, more commonly referred to as " Section 8″ , finding a landlord can be difficult. Sweetser adds they currently have 20 people with approved vouchers and only so many landlords.

Jen” the majority of the landlords that we work with in the county, not just presque isle but in the county are people who have less than 5 units, we currently have 39 active landlords and about 30 percent of those are just individuals theyre not LLC’s or businesses”

Another Voucher option that currently has no waitlist is called Mainstream Vouchers, Sweetser says she currently has 51 available Mainstream vouchers for people who meet the requirements.

Jen” people who would qualify for the Mainstream Voucher Program is anyone with a disability so thats anyone with the stereotypical definition of that , but it also includes people who have developmental disabilities, it would also include people who have physical, mental or emotional disabilities, and people who have an alcohol or drug dependency”

of course, even if every person who needed housing received a voucher, without more local landlords willing to work with housing authorities, the problem is not expected to improve any time soon. Corey Bouchard, NS8