Portland is considering allowing homeless shelters to open across the city

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. WINTER IS COMING.

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What we’re talking about

Jake tonight reports:

Officials want to replace Portland’s homeless shelter with several throughout the city, lifting a regulation that for years has kept those kinds of services consolidated in one section of downtown.

If approved by the City Council, the policy change would disperse the services — and homeless population that uses them — that are now concentrated in West Bayside. The change will better serve the city and people who are homeless, city leaders say, though it is likely to be met with staunch opposition from neighbors of potential facilities.

The plan is in its early stages and no specific sites have been selected, but Councilors Edward Suslovic and Belinda Ray said that the idea is to have facilities that serve people with different needs — such as a dry shelter for people trying to get sober. Modeled after Cambridge, Massachusetts, they suggested spreading smaller shelters throughout the city that each offer an array of services, such as substance abuse counseling, job training and education under one roof.

“Personally, I’d like to see that we would be able to close the Oxford Street Shelter within three years and have it replaced with a network of programmatic shelter,” said Suslovic, chairman of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee.

A city ordinance now allows shelters only in an oddly shaped zone (see B3)downtown that city leaders say is reminiscent of how electoral districts are shaped to affect election outcomes.

“It certainly looks to me like the old days of gerrymandering congressional districts,” said City Manager Jon Jennings of the area where shelters are allowed.

Read his full story here.

In other news

So a guy dressed as a tree was arrested today, I guessWGME reports: “Portland police officers say they were called to the area of Congress and High streets Monday afternoon for a report of a man dressed as a tree standing in the street.”

A Portland man left everything to his family, including his slave — Troy writes:

When [Phinehas Jones] died in Portland, at the age of 39, in 1743, his will listed all his Earthly possessions, including a house, a barn, a wharf, land, furniture, livestock, clothing, 725 gallons of molasses, 107 gallons of rum, 176 gallons of brandy and one human being — a black man named Cambridge.

As Hillary takes the lead in CD2, Trump sends a son to Maine — Chris Cousins reports that Donald Trump Jr. plans to begin his Maine tour tomorrow at Howell’s Indoor Range and Gun Shop at 81 West Road in Gray. Meanwhile, he writes:

FiveThirtyEight.com … has been saying since early September that [Donald] Trump was ahead in the 2nd District, which could have translated to Trump taking one of Maine’s four electoral votes, splitting them for the first time in history. However, in the past few days the organization has shifted its view and predicted that Democrat Hillary Clinton has a 51.4 percent chance of beating Trump in the district.

Looking for a job? — We’re hiring a digital media account manager. (Pass it along.)

We’re hosting a talk with Sen. King on Thursday — BDN Maine and the AARP are holding two talks in Portland in the next month. The first is 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Top of the East at the Westin Hotel with Sen. Angus King and BDN Executive Editor Anthony Ronzio. They’ll be talking about some of the big issues facing Maine. The second one, next month, will feature BDN editorial cartoonist George Danby. RSVP at the link above.

The Big Idea

‘The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious’ — Look, not every big idea has to be about a serious issue. This article is from 2014, but came across my feed today. It’s a delight.


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.