Hyannis Homeless Advocates Looking Off Cape for Solutions

CCB MEDIA A 66-year-old Harwich native walks out of the woods, as, ahead of her, Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald wheels out her belongings in a shopping cart.

CCB MEDIA
A 66-year-old Harwich native walks out of the woods, as, ahead of her, Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald wheels out her belongings in a shopping cart.

HYANNIS – A working group discussing possible solutions to the Hyannis homeless issue are looking off Cape for ideas, including programs being used in Portland, Maine.

Group members recently visited the most populous community in the Pine Tree State to examine how it handles homelessness.

Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District Executive Director Elizabeth Wurfbain said the trip was productive and was impressed with a program offering dormitory-like housing at a local YMCA.

“They mix, in a slight way, the people that are in there, the low income people, with the population,” Wurfbain said. “I found that very progressive and I think the group did too.”

Wurfbain said the program is healthy for the homeless population.

“When you segregate people that have issues and don’t offer them much to do then you get the people that are just languishing,” she said.

Another program that caught the group’s attention was the deployment of a van from a city owned shelter to pick up individuals in need of services.

“We in Cape Cod have outreach workers and community service officers but I think a facility itself should have a dedicated staff person that brings people with their own vehicle so it’s not really left to the police,” Wurfbain said.

The trip was organized by Stacie Peugh, the President and CEO of the YMCA Cape Cod.

Wurfbain said Peugh, who is not a member of the homeless group, is a fresh face to the issue.

“She really came in with some ideas and great critical thinking of what can the Y do and how can we evolve in what we are doing?” Wurfbain said.

Wurbain said the group had been looking at solutions from a shelter point of view but thinks a supportive housing point of view could be more beneficial.

“They still need support and putting them in apartments around Hyannis – we’ve seen the problems with that,” Wurfbain said. “What they really need is supporting housing and those are best practice models that are out there.”

The group will discuss the trip and observations made during its next meeting.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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