Hot line links homeless to shelter

Posted Dec. 15, 2008, at 9:40 p.m.

FAIRFIELD, Maine — Jan Lightfoot Lane, an advocate for Maine’s homeless, is setting up a hot line to link homeless people with landlords or homeowners with available space. She is calling her program “Home for the Holidays.”

The founder of Hospitality House Inc., which has provided advice and other services for homeless people for more than 20 years, Lightfoot Lane said her goal is to find a place for at least 10 families or individuals by Christmas.

“With the numbers of homeless up, and since almost every homeless and battered shelter turns away a few in need or has a waiting list, the hot line is asking anyone with space or a room to call,” Lightfoot Lane said.

She said the situation is compounded this year because many churches are putting their donations toward heating fuel needs. “We used to be able to turn to the churches for temporary assistance, such as security deposits or help with temporary shelter in motels,” she said.

The hot line’s toll-free number is 800-438-3890.

The advocate said her Homeless Hotline receives at least four calls a day from desperate families, and most of them already are living with family members or in shelters.

“I would guess that on any given day, there are 20 to 50 families out there that are on the verge of homelessness and need help,” she said Monday.

“We are hoping to match up homeless individuals and families with available rental units across Maine,” she said. Landlords with empty rooms or apartments are encouraged to call the hot line.

“Even if we hook up only one family in the entire state with an apartment by Christmas, that is better than none,” she said.

Lightfoot Lane said that Hospitality Inc. is in a unique position because of its already-existing Homeless Hotline.

“We can match the vacancies with callers from around the state,” she said. “The hot line will take the contact information and location and specifics about the apartments as well as creating a list of families in need. Some of these families might be willing to relocate to a neighboring town or across the state, if necessary.”

She said that although her service is based in Fairfield, it works on behalf of homeless families across the state.

Landlords are asked to call the toll-free number between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. “Please help make project ‘Home for the Holidays’ a success,” Lightfoot Lane said. She said her nonprofit organization also would accept donations to be used for temporary housing, security deposits and rent.

For more information, write Hospitality House Inc. at P.O. Box 62, Hinckley 04944, or call 800-438-3890.

bdnpittsfield@verizon.net

487-3187

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