MaineHousing continues to work with several partners across Maine to launch Wellness Centers, which are extensions of local homeless shelters to help support social distancing and contain the spread of COVID-19 among people who are homeless. Local homeless shelters, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Maine System, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency have united to help local communities create these temporary homeless shelters.
So far, MaineHousing has grant agreements for over $1,750,000 in Wellness Center grants to Preble Street in Portland, the Aroostook County Action Program in Presque Isle, and Community Concepts in Lewiston for centers in these communities. We are currently working with other Maine cities on similar efforts.
MaineHousing also launched a grant program for homeless shelters to cover operating expenses due to COVID-19. We have funded 14 shelters through 17 grants shelters so far, totaling nearly $341,000. We are proud to join both the John T. Gorman Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation to help support this work across Maine. Find information about our 2020 COVID-19 Homeless Provider Grant here.
We are also partnering with DHHS to secure hotel/motel rooms in various locations in Maine to help those experiencing homelessness and others who have tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for test results, or have been exposed to COVID-19 and must isolate themselves.
MaineHousing staff worked with Maine Craft Distilling to coordinate the distillery’s first round of hand sanitizer to homeless shelters across the state. Thank you to David Swardlick for his help and his willingness to deliver the hand sanitizer to shelters in need!
We will continue to issue quarterly shelter payments; current shelter monitoring procedures are suspended for the time being.
Meetings with business partners will continue and be conducted via teleconferencing, and call-in information will be provided prior to the meeting. Please be sure to check the Maine Homeless Planning website for Maine Continuum of Care (CoC) and Statewide Homeless Council meeting updates.
We will continue to staff the HMIS Help Desk and the ESHAP Help Desk to answer questions and provide technical assistance. There may be times when the Homeless Initiatives Department has limited staffing levels, but we are committed to responding as quickly as possible.