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Posted on: June 19, 2019

City Announces Update on Asylum Seeker Transition Plan

NEWS ALERT


PORTLAND, Maine -- Ci ty Manager Jon Jennings today announced an update related to the City’s efforts on a transition plan to house asylum seekers. The City is incredibly thankful to those who have offered assistance during this emergency situation. Some of those offers included assistance from local colleges and universities. 

“We are incredibly thankful to President Cummings and the team at USM,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “They stepped up in this emergency situation and graciously offered the temporary use of a dorm to house asylum seekers who have recently arrived in Portland. The staff at USM have worked around the clock with City staff on the logistics of this offer, and for that we are grateful.”

Jennings continued, “While we are so appreciative of the USM offer and the other offers we’ve received, the City has come to the conclusion that the best course of action at this time is to focus on finding and providing more long-term housing solutions. We believe that avoiding short-term housing options would be less disruptive and easier on these families who have already endured so much.” 

Separately, City officials attended an emergency meeting this morning of the Greater Portland Council of Government’s Metro Regional Coalition. At the meeting, members of neighboring cities and towns agreed to work with local developers and private property owners to find vacant apartments or suitable empty facilities that could house 100 families. Committee members also agreed to ask their city and town councils to contribute money to nonprofit agencies assisting the asylum-seekers. 

The Greater Portland Council of Governments will work with the City in organizing the regional response to finding long-term housing for the asylum-seekers. GPCOG will coordinate the creation of a program that will allow families to host asylum-seekers in their homes. The agency will distribute a list of nonprofits that have worked to assist the needs of families staying at the Portland Expo. City and town managers will coordinate financial contributions so nonprofits receive needed funding. 

“I’m so thankful for the productive conversations we had this morning with the Metro Regional Coalition,” said City Manager Jennings. “We asked for the assistance of our neighbors in finding permanent housing solutions, and I was very pleased with the positive reaction we received.”  

Asylum Seekers at the Expo Shelter

The latest physical count of those at the Expo as of this morning is 223 people. The total computer intake count is 292. These numbers represent 87 families. 

The City has received almost $400,000 in donations through its text to donate program, Paypal, and checks in the mail. From just the text to donate program, more than 2,500 people have donated from 30 states and more than 226 towns in Maine.

To donate, text the word EXPO to 91999 or visit www.portlandmaine.gov/donate.  

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