The Portland Expo was used as temporary shelter for asylum seekers in 2019. The state is providing funding, largely through American Rescue Plan Funding, to provide an emergency homeless shelter along with temporary housing for asylum seekers in the greater Portland area. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A day after South Portland city councilors approved a letter that stated it lacked available housing for asylum seekers, the state announced that it would provide funding to construct emergency housing in Portland.

While the actual location of the temporary homeless shelter and asylum housing has not been disclosed, the shelter could provide space for up to 280 homeless adults and a number of renovated houses could provide accommodations for around 140 asylum seekers, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The shelter is reportedly slated to be placed off-peninsula in Portland, while housing units are being renovated in Portland, South Portland and Brunswick, Senior Housing Adviser Greg Payne told the Portland newspaper. The cost to rent the housing for asylum seekers would be covered by the state for up to two years, according to Payne.

This comes as many Mainers and would-be residents feel the crunch of rising costs of rent amid a housing crisis, and many hotels that offer temporary residency reach capacity.

City officials hope that these opportunities will allow unhoused people and asylum seekers access to other places of shelter, rather than being boarded at hotels, which have largely provided temporary housing over the course of the pandemic with help from federal and state voucher programs.

The city is waiting to finalize a lease agreement before disclosing the area of the temporary shelter.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.