Stop The Sweeps

Portland, Maine City Council

Maine DSA. Portland, ME. STOP SWEEPS. Action Alert: House Everyone Now!

City management has again ordered staff to use city resources to displace dozens of people who, without any other recourse, had been camping in Portland. After notifying residents that they would be charged with trespassing if they didn’t leave immediately, city staff handed out a list of housing programs with years-long waiting lists and gave no further guidance to these Portland residents with nowhere to go with our city’s shelters at capacity nearly every night.

This latest “encampment sweep” occurred less than twenty-four hours after three democratically-elected city Councilors (the entire Health & Human Services and Public Safety Committee) called on the city to halt the evictions while a better plan was developed— a call that was openly rejected by the unelected City Manager Danielle West.

This is just the latest example of the City Manager going around City Council and, more importantly, the will of the people. City Council must hold the manager and city staff accountable and act to create humane, progressive policy that serves our most vulnerable neighbors.

If you agree, please sign your name here. We will be delivering this petition to the City Council at their Sept 26 Encampment Policy workshop.

To: Portland, Maine City Council
From: [Your Name]

While the City Council was not responsible for ordering the eviction of everyone from the encampments, you have options to fight homelessness in Portland.

We demand that you hold Danielle West and city staff accountable for their actions and that you work together to create humane, progressive policy that serves our most vulnerable neighbors.

To name some immediate steps you could take to address this housing emergency that has left so many living out on the streets, you can and should:

- End all encampment sweeps and work with the outreach workers and the social service community on humane solutions.

- Pass a $50 million housing bond to develop much needed affordable social and public housing.

- Keep those with homes in homes by enforcing rent control to ensure tenants are not paying more in rent than they already are, and strengthen the rights of tenant unions to organize on their own behalf.

- Reduce the number of Airbnbs taking much needed housing off our market.

- Expand Portland’s property tax/rent relief program to all ages to make it easier for renters and young families to afford our city.

- Impose a vacancy fee on property that is bank-owned, condemned, or otherwise uninhabited/unused for more than 6 months out of the year to encourage the rehabilitation and development of housing.

- Implement a proposed fee on hotel guests – a vote which was postponed to September 18th – but rather than giving that money to a tourism marketing firm, direct those funds to the housing trust as allowed under state law.

The city needs to devote all available resources toward making Portland actually livable and affordable, and needs to do so immediately.