As people begin to realize what a problem homelessness is in Central Maine, it appears that a vacant building in Waterville could soon be used as temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness.

According to the KJ, the Waterville Planning Board voted 7 to 0 on Tuesday to recommend to the City Council that the vacant building at 8 Highwood Street be turned into temporary housing for the homeless.

The Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter wants to purchase the building, which used to house healthcare offices, to turn it into a mix of apartments for families & the elderly and as temporary housing for between 20 and 30 people dealing with homelessness.

Prior to Tuesday's vote, the board held a discussion about potential issues caused by the shelter.  These included concerns about an increase in traffic to the relatively quiet area, which is northeast of downtown Waterville.

The Kennebec Journal article said that a rep for the shelter said this would be for "high barrier" crisis housing, meaning that it would not be available for sex offenders, people with certain mental health concerns, or those who had been convicted of violent crimes.

Additionally, the article explained that those experiencing homeless would only be there temporarily.  They would only be there until permanent housing could be found.  And, the shelter would only take up a small part of the building.  About 80% of the space would be devoted to permanent apartments for families and the elderly.

When the question of security and safety was brought up, a rep for the shelter said there would be staff on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There is no word on when the project would get final approval.

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