Portland Expo opening on Monday as emergency shelter for asylum seekers
On Monday, up to 300 asylum seekers will move into a temporary emergency shelter at the Portland Expo, where they could stay through the summer.
Since January, about 1,000 asylum seekers have come to Portland seeking shelter, the city said. It's straining city budgets, prompting the city to ask for donations.
Interim City Manager Danielle West said some families were housed at the Portland Public Schools Gym with city funding, but moving to the Expo to accommodate more asylum seekers will cost more.
"We've looked at what the cost would be, it's about $130,000 more than the costs spent at the gym, so we could have fixed costs in excess of $100,000, and weekly staffing and utility costs," West said.
Maine Immigrants Rights Coalition Executive Director Mufalo Chitam said help must also focus on finding housing for asylum seekers when the Expo closes at the end of the summer.
"Help looks like this," Chitam said. "You know someone who has a home they can rent regardless of what town they are in. Reach out to us and we'll have that conversation. We want to make sure people leave the Expo and can go into their own house, their own home."
The City is hoping a plan to retrofit an existing facility at 90 Blueberry Road in Portland into an emergency center will be ready for occupancy when the Expo closes.
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