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June 15, 2018

In Portland’s Bayside Neighborhood, King Visits Homeless Shelters, Meet with Community Members

Also provided remarks at Girl Scouts of Maine’s Passion to Action Forum

PORTLAND, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined Portland City officials, neighborhood organizers, and social service leaders to tour the Portland Bayside neighborhood. In Bayside, Senator King visited the Portland Family Shelter, the Oxford Street Shelter, walked the neighborhood, and met with neighborhood residents to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the area, community concerns about the opioid epidemic, and ways to help Maine people struggling with homelessness. Among those who joined Senator King on the tour are Portland City Manager Jon Jennings, Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck, and Dawn Stiles, Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Portland.

“Today’s visit highlighted both the problems facing the Bayside neighborhood and the social service organizations, law enforcement and first responders who are working to address the issues,” said Senator King. “It was valuable to hear from folks in the neighborhood about the community’s struggles with homelessness and opioid addiction, which is afflicting far too many people across our country. Seeing these challenges firsthand underscores the gravity of the situation, which is impacting families like those in the Bayside neighborhood, and in communities I’ve met with across Maine. I will bring the stories shared with me today back to Washington as I continue to urge my colleagues to increase the strength of our response to the opioid epidemic.”

The Bayside tour builds on Senator King’s work to combat the opioid and heroin crisis, which he has made one of his top priorities in Washington. The Senator has convened eight roundtables throughout Maine – from Portland to Bangor to Milo to Paris – to speak with health professionals, first responders, community members, and people in recovery to find ways to help people get better and make Maine communities safer and healthier. He has repeatedly called on Congress and both the Obama and Trump administrations to fund laws and agencies that help address the drug epidemic. In November 2017, he led a letter to the Trump Administration urging additional funding for the opioid epidemic, and in October he joined with a group of colleagues to introduce the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act legislation that would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids. Senator King also recently wrote to President Trump urging him to allow the government to negotiate lower prices for life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone. 

During his time in the Senate, Senator King has worked to curb homelessness in Maine, and has focused on providing support for homeless veterans and justice-involved veterans. He helped secure three new VA positions in Maine to better serve the needs of justice-involved veterans confronting homelessness, mental health, or substance use issues. In December 2017, he wrote to then-VA Secretary David Shulkin urging him to protect homeless veterans and ensure veteran homeless programs are fully funded. His letter followed reports that the VA planned to reallocate funding from the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) veteran housing voucher program to the VA’s General Purpose fund. In the past, he has cosponsored the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act to curb youth homelessness in Maine and across the country. The legislation would reauthorize several important federal initiatives that support America’s homeless young people, including a grant program that help states and local communities as they work to address the needs of runaway and homeless youth. The bill also includes new language to target human trafficking and prohibit these federal programs from discriminating against a child based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Senator King has also met with people at numerous homeless shelters throughout the state, like Preble Street in Portland, New Beginnings in Lewiston and The Gathering Place in Brunswick.

Prior to his tour of Bayside, Senator King addressed attendees at the Girl Scouts of Maine: “Passion to Action” Forum. The forum aims to encourage young women to remain engaged and active in their communities into their college years and adult lives. Later in the afternoon, he visited River House one of two residential programs run by Spurwink, and serves children and adolescents with emotional/behavioral disorders, autism and developmental disabilities who aren’t able to live safely at home or be successfully treated in a less restrictive environment. Senator King received a tour of River House, and met with staff and clients to discuss the importance of maintaining Medicaid funding and protecting funding for special education.


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