Governor Paul LePage Shares Personal Story of Homelessness
When you think “homeless person”, a lot of stereotypes might come to mind.What you might not realize is the person sitting next to you at work or your next door neighbor could have been homeless at one point.There’s many reason people end up homeless. Some have addiction problems or mental issues, others simply fall on hard times.We sat down with Governor Paul LePage to hear about his journey from the streets to the Blaine House.” It was a dysfunctional family and my dad and I didn’t see eye to eye and he beat me, and I left. End of story,” said Governor Paul LePage.That’s actually the beginning of the story for Governor Paul Lepage. At 11 years old, he was homeless in Maine.” Sometimes I’d stay at friend’s homes, sometimes I’d stay in hallways. I’ve stayed in cars, cellars, the racetrack,” described LePage.Eventually, two families took in the young man, but before that, he says he just did what he had to do to survive.” It’s always a matter of just finding a place to live, and getting jobs. You work and you’ve got money and as long as you’ve got money, a place to live and clothes, I just never really thought about it, I just did it. You were there and you just make it work,” said LePage.Thousands of homeless Mainers stay in shelters each year, but LePage says that’s not how it worked when he was young.” There was no such thing back then, there was no homeless shelters. You’d just have to make due and you just roamed around and you figured it out,” said LePage.Governor LePage says he doesn’t want to eliminate shelters, but he believes changes need to be made.” Shelters are very, very important for a very short period of time,” said LePage. ” We can stop homelessness to a great extent if we catch it early. We need to figure out a way to catch it early.”Cindy Namer is the Manager for Homeless Initiatives for Maine Housing. A goal of the organization is to end homelessness in Maine. Namer believes the key is to get people housed with support services, so they don’t recycle back into shelters.” Shelters are intended to be a safety net to help people in the emergency, in the immediate need of the crisis and then try to get them rapidly released,” said Namer.She went on to say, ” We are not in the business of trying to increase shelters or increase more bed nights for shelters. The answer is really trying to get people linked with housing.”Governor LePage says there needs to be a stable plan to prevent people from falling back into homelessness.” A lot of people have exhausted their savings. They’ve exhausted their ability to pay their mortgage, their car payments, student loans and unfortunately they’re the forgotten few because what happens here in the state if you own any assets you don’t qualify for any help. Well, they have to lose it all before we’ll help them and that’s a gap we need to figure out,” said LePage.If you had asked LePage when he was 11 and homeless, if he’d be the Governor of Maine, he would have told you no: but he says through his experiences, he learned ten two-letter words that changed his life.” If it is to be, it is up to me. Those are the most powerful ten words and if you really get to understand them there’s nothing you can’t do if you want to. It’s all about putting your mind to it and staying to course.”If you’d like to learn more about Maine Housing visit www.MaineHousing.org. If you or your family need help finding a shelter, you can call 211 for assistance.