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Posted on: October 19, 2020

Portland Finalizing Plans for Additional Shelter Space Ahead of Winter

NEWS ALERT

The City of Portland’s Health & Human Services (HHS) Department has been working diligently to prepare for the winter season and the anticipated impact on people experiencing homelessness. Staff is in the midst of finalizing its plan for shelter spaces this winter. In light of COVID-19 precautions and the loss of normal overflow shelter spaces, the City has had to reduce the capacity at its existing shelter spaces, and operate additional shelter spaces plus utilize motel rooms. This new plan for winter could offer an increase in shelter capacity from 244 to 274. 

HHS staff convened a meeting of local social service providers on Friday, October 16 to discuss cold weather planning. Twelve agencies attended, including City, State, and nonprofit organizations, and the focus of the meeting was to collaborate in meeting the needs of the community while continuing adherence to COVID-19 restrictions.

The City’s existing resources include:

  • 75 beds available at the Oxford Street Shelter;

  • 75 beds available at the Portland Expo Center;

  • Local area hotels providing emergency shelter through General Assistance;

  • The Family Shelter (currently operating at full capacity);

  • Motel rooms provided to Family Shelter guests as overflow.

The City’s ability to use the Portland Expo Center expires on October 25, 2020 due to its contract with the Maine Red Claws. To ensure a smooth transition and sufficient resources during the winter season, the City is close to finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding with Cumberland County for the use of the Community Corrections Center (informally known as Joyce House), located at 50 County Way in Portland. 

The City is expecting to be able to use that space from the end of October through April 30 as a shelter for up to 50 people. The shelter will be operated 24/7 by City staff. This plan is not expected to result in any additional costs to the City.

In addition, City staff are close to finalizing a contract with an area hotel to provide beds for up to 149 individuals as needed, which MaineHousing has committed to funding. 

This information was shared with the City Council as a Communication during its October 19, 2020 meeting. The City will share additional information once plans are finalized. 

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