According to this paper, “Hope for the unhoused: Androscoggin County funds overnight warming shelter” (Jan. 19), our county commissioners unanimously approved $297,680 for a warming center at the Calvary Methodist Church in Lewiston for the next 13 weeks. This center will be available from midnight to 8 a.m., seven days a week, a total of 56 hours per week. It is thus costing $22,898 per week, $3,271.20 per day, and $408.90 per hour.

This money is said to be for “administrative support, one building coordinator and three monitors.” The taxpayers deserve clarification regarding how much money is staying with Community Concepts; what it means to support “the work of the church”; and how much is going to the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and for what services beyond the one coordinator and three monitors.

Whether the line between the First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state is being violated is debatable. But passing the money through Community Concepts only blurs that line; it does not erase it if some of the money ends up at Calvary Methodist Church in the form of goods and services.

Finally, I actually applaud this endeavor if there were more bang for the buck (more hours per day, less administrative costs), including the blurring of the First Amendment line.

I just want to remind my progressive friends and neighbors that their stance against vouchers to religious schools (educating children) is little different than what is happening at Calvary Methodist Church (helping the unhoused).

Mark Wood, Poland

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