CAMDEN — Camden National Bank, Maine’s largest community bank, announces that in just two years, it has donated more than $220,000 to nearly 50 homeless shelters in three states. In 2015, the bank launched the community-based, statewide hope@home program to drive more awareness of homelessness in Maine and to provide vital assistance to those in need. Through this initiative, for every home financed through Camden National Bank, $100 is donated to a homeless shelter in the community of the new homeowner.
“It fills me with pride to see how much local shelters have benefited from this program,” says Camden National Bank President and CEO Greg Dufour. “When we first decided to start this project, we consulted with some of Maine’s key homelessness advocates to create an initiative that would have an immediate impact,” says Dufour.
While homelessness rates climb across the country they are on a slight decline in Maine, according to data from the Statewide Homeless Council. More importantly, lengths of stays in homelessness decreased 21 percent from 2016 to 2017, and were down 63 percent the previous year.
The funds are provided without spending restrictions, something advocates say is critical to hope@home’s success. “We know that unrestricted financial contributions help shelters provide the services they need to move people from homelessness to housing, one at a time,” says Cullen Ryan, acting chair of the Statewide Homeless Council. “Camden National’s generosity has made them one of, if not the largest, private donors we’ve ever worked with. The bank’s effort is commendable. We have a long way to go to end homelessness, and this kind of help is huge.”
Hospitality House, a family homeless shelter in Rockport has received over $10,000.00 from Camden National Bank’s program since its inception. “Thanks to this funding we are able to repair a car which keeps a client employed, or pay for an uninsured client who needs critical emotional or physical health services – its invaluable,” says Stephanie Primm, Executive Director. “In Winter, we always see an increase in the number of homeless families, so continued support from outside partners is critical to meeting these unfortunate demands.” Primm attributes a spike in demand right now in part to seasonal job loss, a severe lack of affordable housing concurrent with steadily increasing housing costs.
Camden National Bank plans to continue the hope@home program in 2018.