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South Portland announces new policies to provide support for unhoused people

The City of South Portland on Monday announced two new ordinances to provide support for unhoused people. They will allow organizations to establish homeless shelters for up to 8 people in many parts of South Portland, and larger shelters in some zoning districts.

The city is also ending a program that allowed hotels to operate as de facto homeless shelters so they can return to typical operations. Nine South Portland hotels are now hosting several hundred unhoused clients. The city says public safety calls at hotels that began hosting unhoused clients during the COVID pandemic more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels, to nearly 2,000 in 2022.

Unhoused people living in hotels have until June 30 to vacate, to allow any children to finish the school year without disruption.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.