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Activists call for more affordable housing in Augusta

Community organizers and unhoused residents gathered at Mill Park in Augusta before walking to city hall to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing.
Kaitlyn Budion
/
Maine Public Radio
Community organizers and unhoused residents gathered at Mill Park in Augusta before walking to city hall to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing.

Community organizers and unhoused residents gathered at Mill Park in Augusta today before walking to city hall to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing.

Marshall Mercer, the executive director of the group Hope Brokers, says that other social issues are connected to homelessness. Because when people are preoccupied about where to live, they can't focus on other parts of their lives.

"Where are you going to sleep? Therefore, you can't worry about your job, you can't worry about your education," Mercer said. "So now we're setting our people up for failure."

Mercer says that many people just can't afford rising rents in the area. And although the march today was small, he says Hope Brokers will continue to advocate for effective change.

One marcher introduced himself as Shevvy, a pseudonym he uses. He says he lost his apartment in January, and then lost his job as a dishwasher shortly after. He came to the march because he wants to advocate for his community.

"I hope more people end up talking about the situation because this is the only way for people to actually hear we are human beings, we're not just these lowlifes walking the streets," Shevvy said. "I had a life, I had a good life for a while where I was making money and I was eating good food and had my children and had my lover, and this isn't who I am, this isn't where I want to be."

Community organizers and unhoused residents gathered at Mill Park before walking to city hall. They held signs that read "everyone deserves housing" and cheered as passing cars honked in support.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.