Everyone deserves a place to call home.

A word from Rebecca

In Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ budget address in February, she announced her desire to sign a bill expanding Housing First in Maine, LD 2: An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis. This led to two questions that I have been asked many times since then:

  1. What is Housing First?
  2. Why Housing First?

What is Housing First? It is a site-based (i.e., single property), no-barrier, supportive housing model with 24/7 casework support for people who have experienced chronic homelessness. Instead of requirements and barriers for housing, such as requiring residents to be sober or in a treatment program, people who have experienced chronic homelessness are provided with housing first, then are provided with support systems to address their personal needs.

Why Housing First? Site-based Housing First has proven to be the most successful housing model for people who have lived in shelters or on the streets for extended periods.

Nearly 20 years ago, Avesta Housing and Preble Street opened the doors of Logan Place, Maine’s first Housing First community site. Logan Place became a safe, supportive home for people who had experienced chronic homelessness. In the following months and years, it preserved the use of community resources such as shelters, hospitals, emergency services, and more by providing a stable home with 24/7 dedicated support services for its residents. This saved local governments and agencies significant resources. It also preserved the health, safety, and dignity of our neighbors most in need. It saved lives.

Following the great success of Logan Place, Avesta developed two more Housing First communities in partnership with Preble Street — Florence House in 2010 and Huston Commons in 2017 — to address the growing needs for chronically unhoused individuals in Maine.

This month’s edition of Avesta News + Notes focuses on our Housing First properties and how they make a difference in residents’ lives. As you read it, I hope you will be inspired to join us in supporting the passage of LD 2 in the Maine Legislature. We have no time to lose — we have a homelessness crisis in Maine of record proportion. The available shelters and housing simply cannot meet the need, leaving far too many people living outside. We need scalable initiatives to end homelessness. Expanding Housing First communities is key to ending chronic homelessness in Maine.

I am hopeful that LD 2 will pass. This bill will provide funding for the 24-hour-a-day supportive services that make Housing First a successful solution for people with complex needs. I urge you all to join me in supporting LD 2 so we can welcome unhoused Mainers to their new homes soon!

Rebecca Hatfield, President & CEO


Logan Place

Location: Portland

Opened: 2005

Residents: Chronically homeless individuals

Units: 30 efficiency apartments

Logan Place is Avesta’s original Housing First model — the first in Maine. It has provided stable, accessible housing and 24/7 site-based support services to chronically homeless people for 18 years, and has proven successful in helping residents reconnect with family members, receive addiction and mental health treatment, reduce the need for emergency medical care, and reintegrate into society. Many residents volunteer in their communities; some have even returned to work.

Florence House

Location: Portland

Opened: 2010

Residents: Women who are chronically homeless, require long-term support services, or are in need of temporary shelter

Units: 25 efficiency apartments; 15 safe haven beds; 10 to 15 emergency shelter beds

Inspired by the success of Logan Place, Avesta and Preble Street partnered to create Florence House, which provides safe, stable housing and 24/7 site-based support services to chronically homeless women. Florence House also provides short-term emergency shelter to women who are temporarily homeless due to a financial or situational crisis, and long-term safe haven housing to women who require support to develop trust, self-assurance, and skills to become more independent.

Huston Commons

Location: Portland

Opened: 2017

Residents: Chronically homeless individuals with significant medical conditions

Units: 30 efficiency apartments

Huston Commons is Avesta’s third and latest Housing First development and focuses on chronically homeless people with disabilities. Residents receive safe, stable homes, 24/7 on-site support services, and access to an on-site medical care room that accommodates regular practitioner hours and telemedicine services. This enables residents to maintain regular treatment of their medical conditions, reducing the likelihood of emergency care and hospitalization.

'I don’t think I’d be alive if I didn’t get into Florence House'

The walls of Laura’s apartment at Florence House are decorated with handmade posters adorned with words of inspiration:

“Embrace the day”

“Give without expecting”

“Some things are worth the wait”

Looking at them, she smiles and shakes her head as she remembers the journey that brought her here. “It’s amazing how much I’ve grown compared to the girl who showed up here with just a backpack,” she says. “What a train wreck I was.”

Laura dropped out of high school and had her first child when she was just a teenager. She developed chronic alcoholism, which resulted in a failed marriage, bankruptcy, and a string of abusive relationships. For four years, she was homeless and living on the streets of Portland.

“I’ve stayed in the shelter, I’ve slept in tents, I’ve slept outside, I’ve couch-surfed — I even built my own little makeshift shack,” she says. “You name it, I’ve done it.”

In 2015, Laura was placed into an efficiency apartment at Florence House, a Housing First property in Portland owned and managed by Avesta Housing in partnership with Preble Street. For the first time in a long time, she had a secure, safe place to live and a warm, dry bed to sleep in every night.

“For the first six months, I thought someone was going to knock on my door, take my keys away, and say, ‘We were joking and changed our minds,’” she says. “It was hard to accept that it was real.”

Laura still has some work to do on herself. She knows this, and she readily admits it. She still battles her alcohol addiction. Her dreams haunt her.

But she’s now 30 days sober and is eager to be connected to counseling services by Florence House staff. She has remained close to her ex-husband and their three children, and her mother and sister visit her weekly to take her shopping. She is hopeful that someday soon she can move out of Florence House and into a one-bedroom apartment.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’d be alive if I didn’t get into Florence House,” she says. “I had at least a 90% chance of not making it — of just becoming another statistic.”

When she needs encouragement, Laura looks at her posters, each of which she has painstakingly created by cutting out bits and pieces from magazines and placed around her apartment so that no matter where she looks, she can draw strength from their words:

“Small changes, big impact”

“Feel it in your heart”


LD 2 at a Glance

What is LD 2?

LD 2, An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis, is a bill before the Maine Legislature that prioritizes the creation of 13 to 15 new site-based Housing First properties across the state. The new Housing First properties would expand access to permanent housing and 24/7 support services for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The bill has bipartisan support, and Gov. Janet Mills has proclaimed that she will sign it if it passes.

How is LD 2 funded?

Funding would be established by redirecting real estate transfer tax revenue from the state’s general fund to a new Housing First Fund operated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The Housing First Fund would be combined with other subsidies, such as those provided by MaineHousing, to support Housing First development and services across the state.

How can I support passage of the bill?

Call, write, or email your district’s state legislators. A list of senators can be found here, and a list of representatives can be found here.

Where can I learn more?

Click the “Read the Bill” button below.

Read the Bill


For more information about available homes with Avesta Housing, click the button below.

Find a Home

About Avesta

Avesta Housing's mission is rooted in the belief that everyone deserves a place to call home.

Our Mission: Avesta Housing improves lives and strengthens communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes

for people in need. 

Support Our Work
Facebook      Twitter      Linkedin      Youtube