LEWISTON — Two women shared their experiences at Monday evening’s second public listening session on reducing homelessness in the city.

Contributors to the discussion at Lewiston Public Library emphasized the need for basic amenities that are overlooked when trying to accommodate displaced persons.

“When you have a job interview and your clothes are dirty, you have to find a way or a friend to help you do laundry,” Karen Gagne told Mayor Carl Sheline’s ad hoc Shelter Committee on homelessness. The University of New England student recounted her experiences with being without a home.

“It breaks it down to those small things and it’s exhausting,” she said. “That’s the word, it’s exhausting. You don’t have a home base that covers those things, you have to scramble and find them.”

Sonia Bermonty of Sabattus related her experiences living on the streets of New York City. She called for a change in perception of the homeless community from city administration as key to remedying the situation.

“We definitely need more people showing more compassion to the people on the streets,” Bermonty said. “It starts with the people in the City Council. The burden really lays upon you. It really is your job to love on your city.”


“If you don’t do it, how can you expect the people in the community to do it?” she asked. “You’re kind of like the parent and the community are your kids. Whatever you show them is what they’re going to do,” she said.

Sheline welcomed attendees and introduced Craig Saddlemire and Amy Smith, co-chairmen of committee, who were joined by City Councilor Scott Harriman.

According to the initial announcement of the Shelter Committee, it will “advise and make recommendations to the City Council on homelessness, shelters and the range of housing options necessary to reduce homelessness in Lewiston.”

Saddlemire said the panel is trying to get as much input from the community and use that to develop tools locally and help people who are unhoused and unsheltered. “That is our goal,” he said.

The session followed the first one held June 6 to get public input and gather data toward opening a shelter to address needs of the homeless that are not being met.

The committee was formed in March as city officials debated the six-month moratorium on new homeless shelters, which the City Council approved in a 4-3 vote April.

The committee will put together a presentation for the City Council on July 19.

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