âFrom Homeless to Hopeâ
Evicted from their apartment after a disagreement with their landlord following burst pipes, Shawn Stanford and Amanda Frasier joined a small encampment in the summer of 2022, on an island in the Kennebec River in Waterville, Maine. It was close to the restaurant where Stanford worked washing dishes, and to the social services offices.
Their situation is representative of the working homeless â people earning a paycheck, but not enough to cover housing. It also coincided with an unprecedented housing crunch, and a spike in homelessness and drug use in Maine following the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Jan. 2022, more than 4,400 people in the state were homeless on a nightly basis, a sharp increase from 2021.
Shawn often earned as little as $300 per week. That quickly went for food, propane for heat, and gas for a friend who helped with rides. Amanda stayed at the encampment to guard their belongings while Shawn was at work, and she helped care for another homeless woman who frequently overdosed. Occasionally, she went through area dumpsters looking for anything useful - clothing, food, etc., to contribute what she could.
As winter set in, the challenges added up, staying warm chief among them. During one particularly harsh winter storm, the city paid for Shawn and Amanda to stay a few days at a local motel over Christmas. They found a temporary solution to homelessness at his motherâs house and finally have hope for the future.