Beth Gordon and her son Jesse, 6, work on his homework Tuesday in the pop-up camper where they are living in Fairfield. The family, which also includes Gordon’s daughter Mya, 16, is homeless.

Beth Gordon has a proposition for millionaires in central Maine.

“Clear out a great, big lot and put mobile trailers on it to help out the homeless. Put up solar panels for energy. Let homeless people live there and have them pay $300 a month for a lot. If you have up to 15 trailers, you would eventually earn your money back.”

Gordon, 33, has been living since Monday in a pop-up camper in rural Fairfield with her 6-year-old son, Jesse, and daughter, Mya, 16.

They were evicted Monday from a Skowhegan motel where they had lived since February, with rental assistance from Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.

Gordon, who cleans buildings for a living, had rented a farmhouse in North Anson for two years before that, paying $600 a month, but the bank took the house when the owner got behind on payments.

“I was renting to own,” she said. “I was living on 13 acres. I had a little farm going. I want to be an herbalist but I can’t because of being homeless. I’m trying. I just want my own home. This gets me emotional, I’m not going to lie.”


She wiped away tears as she stood on a bed of yellow leaves outside the camper.

Gordon maintains she is a good mother — it’s the one job she does right. She makes sure her kids have everything they need. She homeschools Jesse and he accompanies her to cleaning jobs.

Gordon grew up in Madison and dropped out of high school after she became pregnant at 16 and had to work to support her baby, Mya.

“She’s an awesome kid — super smart,” Gordon said. “She wants to work for NASA. She goes to the charter school in Skowhegan and will graduate next year and attend college.”

Gordon said Mya’s father is out of the picture, and Jesse’s father, to whom she was married, left the family when Jesse was 1, literally going out for bread and milk one day and never returning.

Beth Gordon walks out of the pop-up camper where she is living with her son and daughter in Fairfield. The camper belongs to Richard James Blackburn II. Blackburn offered it to the family and he’s now living in his truck.

Gordon had been working 40 hours a week but had to cut back because she sold her car to make the first $2,400 rent payment at the motel in February (with KVCAP then picking up the rest of the expense to live there).


Some days are harder than others. She has a rare genetic disorder that can cause sudden pain throughout her body, nausea, loss of bodily functions and convulsions. She suffered a heart attack from the stress.

“I’m always in and out of the hospital,” she said.

Gordon said she understood KVCAP would pay 15 to 18 months rent for her to stay at the Skowhegan motel. But she and other homeless people who lived there on rental assistance were told Oct. 9 they had to leave by Oct. 31, she said.

She tried to find an apartment but a one-bedroom costs at least $1,500 a month and requires a security deposit and first and last month’s rent, in addition to a background check the landlord requires, which costs $35.

“I can’t afford that,” she said. “Nobody can.”

It was unseasonably warm Tuesday at the camper, which Gordon’s longtime friend, Richard James Blackburn II, also homeless, is letting them use.


Blackburn, 35, has been living in the camper on the property, which is owned by a friend’s mother, since early summer. It’s quiet, off the beaten path, close to the woods and he connects to electricity at the woman’s vacant house to enable a heater, microwave, fridge and toaster oven in the camper.

He said when he learned of Gordon’s situation, he offered up his place.

“I’ve always been a person that helps people,” he said.

Beth Gordon is shown Tuesday with her son, Jesse, 6, and dog Mocha at the pop-up camper where they’re living in Fairfield. The family, which also includes Gordon’s daughter, Mya, 16, is homeless. The camper belongs to Richard James Blackburn II, right, who’s holding his dog Zoe. Both canines belong to Blackburn, who offered the camper to the family and he’s now living in his truck. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Homeless off and on for about 10 years, Blackburn suffers from mental illness, sees a therapist and has a doctor in Newport, he said. He grew up in Harmony and Wellington and earned a GED in Guilford. He recently lived with a friend in Cambridge, but the friend overdosed and died and then he lived with a friend in Harmony, but that didn’t work out.

He has two sons he has seen only twice in three years.

“I have a lot of grief from that and I cry a lot,” he said. “I love my kids.”


He does odd jobs such as carpentry and mechanical work. Both he and Gordon receive MaineCare and food stamps.

Blackburn’s service dog, Zoe, a 3-year-old white Labrador, pitbull terrier, American bulldog mix, trounced around in the fallen leaves Tuesday with a puppy, Mocha. Jesse danced about in his Spiderman Halloween costume. A family friend, Brittany Mills, 30, was visiting. She said she has empathy for Gordon as she, herself, will be homeless come December when her rental assistance for her Waterville apartment is terminated.

Monica Grady, a senior director at KVCAP, said Wednesday that she could not comment on specific cases but explained that federal funding that flows through MaineHousing for an emergency relief program has undergone several changes since its inception, with the goal to make the money last as long as possible. Guidelines in June were later changed, dropping the time people could be eligible for funding from 15 to 12 months, she said. Being eligible was always coupled with the caveat “for as long as funding is available,” she said.

KVCAP was notified in September that the program was placed on pause and the agency could no longer accept applications, according to Grady.

“Since then, MaineHousing has made a final allocation to all of the CAP agencies throughout the state — once it is spent, there will be no more funds,” she said in an email. “KVCAP will be working with tenants who had applied prior to the end of September to finish allocating the final amount of funding — we know it will not cover all of the applications that are still in line for processing.”

Beth Gordon and her son, Jesse, 6, embrace Tuesday after the boy finished his homework in the pop-up camper they are living in. The family, which also includes Gordon’s daughter Mya, 16, is homeless. They are living in the camper in Fairfield that belongs to Richard James Blackburn II. Blackburn offered the camper to the family and is now living in his truck.

There are other reasons a motel or hotel could ask someone to leave, she said, including the person’s eligibility for funding has run out.

Meanwhile, Gordon has applied for low-income housing at 37 places and she has been told her credit isn’t good enough, she said. But for her kids, she will keep trying — all the while urging wealthy central Mainers to consider developing that mobile home park for homeless people.

“Just invest in me,” she said. “Give me a loan. Just let me prove myself. Please let me prove myself. I work and make money. I just need the opportunity. I’ve never had the opportunity.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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