Bath survey finds 15 homeless or facing loss of shelter

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BATH — The results of a recent survey reveal that more than a dozen people in the city are either homeless or experiencing housing instability.

Volunteers from the Greater Bath Homeless Initiative, which meets Feb. 17 to review the results, participated in the annual “Point of Time” survey, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on Jan. 29.

A comparison to 2013 is impossible. Last year’s official count was zero, because no count was taken. But a press release from the initiative said this year’s number “represents only the tip of the iceberg,” with 15 people found to be either without a home or facing housing instability.

While conducting interviews, volunteers heard about the plight of those who are homeless, including a respondent identified as “Matthew,” whose name the group changed in its press release to protect his anonymity.

“Matthew has a full-time job, an apartment, and ‘cheerfully’ pays child support because ‘he loves his kids,'” the initiative stated. “But Matthew is about to be evicted because he is too far behind in his rent.”

No housing subsidies are available to him because, Bath Housing Director Debora Keller reported, demand for housing choice vouchers exceeds supply.

Bath Housing is fully subscribed with 134 vouchers, and the average wait for a voucher is nearly two years, according to Keller, who noted the organization had to close its waiting list last April because of high demand.

The initiative is scheduled to meet at City Hall at 6 p.m. the third Monday of every month. At the Feb. 17 meeting, along with reviewing the survey results and hearing from people who have attended meetings of the Region 2 council of the Statewide Homeless Council and Continuum of Care, the group will talk about its purpose, vision and goals.

Contact Bill Bliss, pastor of the Neighborhood Faith Community, United Church of Christ in Bath, at 443-2187 for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.