Biddeford, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development New England Regional Administrator David Tille in recognizing Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and Lewiston Mayor Kristen Cloutier for signing onto the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
“Veterans have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms, and we have a duty to provide these courageous men and women with the benefits and resources they have earned through their service,” said Senator Collins. “I am proud of Mayor Casavant and Mayor Cloutier for making the commitment to end veteran homelessness in their communities. We must continue to build on the progress we have made to ensure that in the land of the free, there will always be a home for the brave.”
“Homelessness in Maine is a growing problem, because the new economy in which we live does not benefit all of our citizens,” said Biddeford Mayor Casavant. “Working families, because of rising housing costs, particularly in southern Maine, are forced onto the streets because of rental increases. Veterans are also falling victim to the economic pressures of housing, and this is unacceptable. It is important, that we, as a state, do what we can to end homelessness among our veterans, provide the necessary support systems, and ensure that homelessness among our veterans is eliminated. This is something that we should not see in America, and we must do what we can to ensure decent, safe housing for all.”
The Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness is a call to action for all mayors and other state and local leaders to publicly commit to making sure that every veteran has a home. To be recognized as having achieved the goal, communities must meet the requirements laid out in the federal Criteria and Benchmarks for Ending Veteran Homelessness, which are intended to help communities drive down the number of veterans experiencing homelessness to as close to zero as possible, while building systems that support long-term, lasting solutions.
Other participating communities in Maine include, Portland, Westbrook, Auburn, Brewer, Bangor, and Augusta.
Last month, the Appropriations Committee advanced Senator Collins’ fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which includes $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers to reduce veterans’ homelessness. Since the HUD-VASH program was first established in 2008, Maine has received 238 vouchers to support homeless veterans. Senator Collins’ efforts have contributed to homelessness among veterans declining by 49 percent since 2010. In April, Senator Collins hosted Secretary Wilkie in Maine to visit a veteran-owned small business, participate in the groundbreaking for a new veterans residential care facility, and tour an organization that provides housing for homeless veterans.