Change Agents 10/6/22: Decriminalizing Homelessness

Producer/Host: Steve Wessler

Change Agents: Conversations with Advocates and Social Justice Advocate on WERU FM

This month:
My three guests all work with Preble Street on issues relating to homelessness. We discussed what it is like to sleep (or try to sleep) in shelters and a focus on the decriminalization of homeless people.
-The sheer number of homeless people on any night can be 1500
-Understanding what it is like to sleep in a crowded shelter
-Focusing on the criminalization of homeless people in Maine. Discussing why criminalization of homeless is counter-productive.

Terrance Miller, is the director of advocacy at Preble Street
Tailor Gray directs Homeless Voices for Justice (HVP is an advocacy group with homeless people or former homeless people)
Lisa Franklin, formerly a homeless person and now working with Homeless Voice for Justice

About the host:
Steve Wessler will soon will be starting his 28th year of working on human right issues. He founded the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Attorney’s Office in 1992 and led the Unit for 7 years. In 1999 he left the formal practice of law and founded the Center for the Prevention of Hate. The Center worked in Maine and across the USA. He and his colleagues worked to reduce bias and harassment in schools, in communities, in health care organization through workshops and conflict resolution. The Center closed in 2011 and Steve began a consulting on human rights issues. For the next 5 years much of his work was in Europe, developing and implementing training curricular for police, working in communities to reduce the risk of hate crimes, conflict resolution between police and youth. He has worked in over 20 countries. In late 2016 he began to work more in Maine, with a focus on reducing anti-immigrant bias. He continues to work in schools to reduce bias and harassment. Wessler teaches courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine at Augusta and at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in northern Virginia.