It may be the busiest time of the campaign season, but in Portland, Maine, candidates for U.S. Senate are taking time to meet with the state's most vulnerable – taking questions from the homeless at a soup kitchen.
The group Homeless Voices for Justice is working with the Preble Street Resource Center to host candidates in a series of forums. On Friday, Independent Sen. Angus King and his challengers, Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey and Democrat Zak Ringelstein met with dozens of people who are currently or recently homeless.
“It’s really important for people in a job like mine to remember what’s going on on the street,” said King.
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The audience asked the candidates questions about everything from education, to the opioid epidemic, to the availability of affordable housing.
“Whether they vote or not, I just think it’s important to hear what they’re saying,” said King.
“Everybody has a life, no matter what their economic situation is,” said organizer Jim Devine. “People in political office have an impact on that life.”
Devine has been homeless himself. It’s now his mission to get people off the streets and involved in the political process. As a leader in the Homeless Voices for Justice group, he helps put together these forums and encourages everyone to register to vote – whether they have housing or not.
His group’s campaign, called “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” has already registered 100 new voters this year.