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April 5, 2023

Survey: Maine homeless population doubled since 2019

The growth of Maine's homeless population is the 4th-highest when compared to the rest of the country, according to a state-by-state analysis, and has increased by 103% since 2019.

A study conducted by, using data from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, pegged Maine at No. 4. The data was from HUD's Annual Homeless Assessment Report, on the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Those who were unsheltered, in emergency shelters, or in transitional housing were surveyed. 

The study showed that the homeless population rate in the state is 32 per 10,000 people, or 4,411, with 74% in emergency shelters, 22% in transitional housing and 4% unsheltered.

According to the survey by the commercial real estate news outlet, the numbers represent a 188% increase in sheltered emergency housing, a 68% increase in the unsheltered, and a 4% increase in transitional housing. 

In comparison, Vermont ranked No. 2, neighboring New Hampshire was ranked No. 15, and Massachusetts was 46th.

New Mexico had the least number of unhoused people in the country, according to the survey.

Maddie Peterson, of, told Mainebiz that their team isn't sure why the homeless population is growing so fast in Maine. 

Courtesy / MaineHousing
MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan

Recent projects and initiatives have been unveiled to help alleviate the statewide problem.

On April 4, Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross proposed an "Act to end chronic homelessness in Maine" by creating a housing-first fund to provide permanent support for housing through a subsidy. 

On March 23, MaineHousing announced a $16 million project which would impact more than 500 people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity through 17 different housing and shelter projects across the state. 

"These are substantial grants that will go towards creating essential new resources and shelter infrastructure in parts of the state currently lacking them," said MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan in the March release. "Much of this funding is also going to communities that have long helped serve Mainers who are experiencing homelessness and will help those important partners expand their capacity as well."

The day before the announcement from MaineHousing, a new homeless shelter was unveiled in Portland. The 208-bed Homeless Service Center at 654 Riverside St. provides meals, day space and medical, dental and psychiatric care. Meals and health care services will be available onsite, as well as services that help clients re-enter the workforce and find transitional housing. 

"While I am glad that we now have a better way in which to serve our most vulnerable populations, in a space that was specifically designed to meet their needs, it is not lost on me that the homelessness crisis is complex, multifaceted, and dynamic," said Mayor Kate Snyder in the March 22 press release.

"We know that piecemeal, siloed responses by individual communities does not work. And we know that these 208 beds will not serve everyone who is in need. We are at a critical juncture in which real, workable, systemic solutions are needed. Portland elected officials and city staff continue to seek assistance from our regional, state and federal partners in order to address the homelessness crisis in our state."  


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