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Housing and Community Development Notices

Posted on: April 22, 2019

Community Development Week - Monday Spotlight

Today's Community Development Week Spotlight Event features several organizations, Wayside Food Programs, Amistad and Portland Downtown, who each use grant funding to help the community: 

Wayside Food Programs

Community Meal Program Through Wayside’s Community Meal Program, we partner with places of worship, community centers, schools and service agencies to create welcoming spaces for sharing food. Each week we provide 14 weekly community meals in Portland, South Portland and Westbrook. The primary objective is to increase access to nutritious food, while intentionally designed to use sharing meals as opportunities for relationship building. In 2018 we shared 29,000 meals with community members.

“For me Wayside Meals are a good place to come and visit and make friends. They do a great job. It’s a lot of good food, a lot of people care for each other, the volunteers are wonderful. Everybody is so wonderful. I spend a lot of time going to the meals and bringing my friends. I really enjoy it.” –Community Meals Guest 

Mobile Food Pantry Program Through Wayside’s Mobile Food Pantry, we partner with neighborhood community groups and housing authorities to share supplemental groceries with neighborhoods where community members experience barriers to existing food pantries. The program also creates opportunities for supporting and building relationships between neighbors as residents help to coordinate, manage records and bring groceries to neighbors unable to make it. In 2018 we shared enough groceries with neighbors in Portland and South Portland to make 60,000 meals. “My doctor is very impressed with the change in my eating habits. I

told her it was because of the healthier foods I have been getting from Wayside. I have been eating more lean proteins and vegetables and less junk.”

– Mobile Food Pantry Participant

(Click here for more information and tour details)

Amistad & Portland Downtown

Amistad, Inc., a peer support and recovery center in Portland, and Portland Downtown, the city’s downtown improvement district, began a new collaboration last year with the Peer Outreach Worker (POW) program, a multi-year initiative funded through the City’s Community Development Block Grant.

The program has two objectives: 1.) To provide POWs to coach adults with severe and persistent mental illness and substance use issues with complicating factors such as homelessness, frequent incarcerations, and low or no access to resources in the community; and 2.) To create an opportunity for regular engagement between members of the community as part of the solution to these issues.

Due to his previous role as a peer coach with Amistad, the full-time POW had previously established many collaborative relationships in the community. He has continued to support several programs that allow him to engage with the populations he serves, such as at Mercy Hospital, the county jail, the state’s mental health hospital, and through sobriety support meetings. The POW has committed to participate in focused efforts in the social service professional community in Portland, including the Long-term Stayer Committee of the Emergency Shelter Assessment Committee, and routinely collaborates with Portland Downtown’s program director regarding data collection and analysis.

In the words of the POW, this work involves:

“Putting simple concepts into [peers’] heads that they can put action behind, [as well as] asking what their biggest needs are, and what they are willing to address.” – Mark, Peer Outreach Worker

Several key findings from the program have emerged:

  • POW engagement is most often requested for substance use issues (23.2%), followed by health issues (17.4%), and housing/homelessness (12.3%), with little resources available for healthcare due to lack of health insurance.   
  • As self-identified, 58% of peers engaged with are unhoused.          
  • About a quarter of issue resolutions (25.8%) involve relationship-building and coaching, including sobriety coaching.
  • Most issues with peers (87.1%) are related to safety in the community, which can include drug overdoses, violent crime victimization, and long-term exposure to the elements and poor living conditions.                                                                                          
  • The large majority of peers engaged with (83.9%) have extremely low incomes ($17,300 or less), compounded by physical and mental disabilities that exempt them from many employment opportunities in the community.

To amplify their efforts with these challenging national issues, the partners have been sharing best-practices with colleagues regarding data efforts, resource-sharing, and employing peer support professionals. They presented on the development of the program at the Maine Public Health Association annual conference in Augusta, ME, and Portland Downtown’s program director presented on the data collection effort at the International Downtown Association (IDA) annual conference in San Antonio, TX, and on coordinating safety teams at the IDA’s inaugural Security Operations Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Through these engagement opportunities, the POW program model is being shared as one solution in solving some of our communities’ most challenging current issues.

(Click here for more information)

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