Portland's Oxford Street Shelter. Credit: Jake Bleiberg

Maine’s biggest city has begun charging other municipalities for the cost of housing homeless people from all over.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Portland in June began sending bills to other towns asking them to chip in for such costs. Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the state should provide more emergency shelter funding.

Portland’s 154-bed Oxford Street Shelter is one of New England’s only municipally run shelters. More than two-thirds of the nearly 2,000 people sheltered each year come from other communities like Biddeford.

It’s also the only shelter in southern Maine that won’t turn people away because of factors like residency or financial status.

Portland taxpayers are currently footing the bill for the portion of a nightly charge that doesn’t get covered by state public assistance funds.

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