Homelessness among Maine veterans continues to be a serious problem that Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, finds unacceptable.
“One homeless veteran is one too many,” said Golden. “These men and women risked their lives for us, and they deserve to have every opportunity to succeed when they get out of the service.”
The Lewiston lawmaker, who served in the Marine Corps in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has spent his first year in office working for better services to get veterans in need back on their feet.
Dozens of veterans’ advocates joined him before the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Friday to support a $4 million bond bill to help veterans get the housing they need.
Matthew Jabaut, a resident of Lewiston and member of the American Legion spoke on behalf of the project.
“This proposal would provide funding and support to some of our state’s veterans most in need,” Jabaut said. “It is a great investment for the Legislature and people of Maine to help veterans by saying thank you for your service in a meaningful way.”
The bond would invest in housing for homeless veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center – Togus in Augusta. The project, called Cabin in the Woods, provides easy access to other services, such as health care and employment training that veterans need to get back on the path to success.
According to the website veterans would also be able to help build the cabins they could call home.
“We have an organization that runs housing programs around the state working with Togus to develop a detailed plan for this housing,” Golden said. “Providing housing for homeless veterans should be a top priority for the state and I am confident that the voters of this state would agree.”
Golden cited a recent homeless veterans’ conference held in Maine, when it was estimated that there is a need for at least 29 supported housing units for homeless veterans.
“My proposal would fund 21 of those units,” Golden said. “It’s a rather modest bond proposal, but it would have a great impact upon the lives of many.”
The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee will give its recommendation on LD 873 in the coming weeks.
Golden is serving his first term in the Maine House and represents part of the city of Lewiston. He serves on both the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and the Transportation Committee.