UNE to host panel on homelessness at its President’s Forum on Feb. 28

quotes for President's Forum

The proliferation of people living in outdoor encampments throughout Maine communities and the United States has prompted an increasingly heated debate around homelessness, including public health and safety concerns, the legality of people camping in public spaces, Maine’s shortage of affordable housing, and the inadequacies of our social safety net.       

The University of New England will host three experts on the topic for a moderated panel discussion for its signature President’s Forum series. The event, titled “Maine’s Homelessness Crisis,” will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Harold Alfond Forum, Room 283, on UNE’s Biddeford Campus.  The event is free and open to the public.  

“The rise in unhoused people has become a crisis here in Maine and elsewhere, and it is important that we hear from a variety of experts as we consider solutions,” said UNE President James D. Herbert. “I’m grateful that we have an opportunity to model civil discourse around this challenging topic and help our students and members of the community to better understand the problem.” 

The three panelists joining the conversation have spent their careers on the front lines of this issue: Danielle West, city manager of Portland, which operates the largest municipal shelter and one of a small number of municipal public health departments in the State of Maine; Cullen Ryan, executive director of Community Housing of Maine, the largest supportive housing provider for homeless and special needs populations in the state; and Ali Lovejoy, vice president for mission advancement at Preble Street, a nonprofit social work agency that has been serving vulnerable populations in Maine for nearly 50 years.   

Hosted by UNE President James D. Herbert and moderated by Courtni Jeffers, Ed.D., assistant clinical professor of public health at UNE, the President’s Forum will exemplify the respectful but impassioned discourse around challenging topics that is the objective of the series and a hallmark of UNE’s Marketplace of Ideas initiative. 

The event will also be livestreamed at www.une.edu/live.