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Plans to remove Bayside Trail encampment on hold as city tries to address growing unhoused crisis

Portland officials are preparing to remove a homeless encampment off Bayside Trail, pictured here on April 14, 2023.
Carol Bousquet
/
Maine Public
Portland officials are preparing to remove a homeless encampment off Bayside Trail, pictured here on April 14, 2023.

The City of Portland says it wants the state to step in to help with the growing unhoused population that is costing the city $40 million a year to help 1,150 unhoused people. At an emergency meeting of city officials Tuesday night, one councilor said the state could deploy the National Guard to bring order to the Bayside Trail encampment. And councilor Andrew Zarro said the state's budget surplus could also help fund additional housing.

"I know that we have about $1 billion in surplus that has to be spent because we have to have a balanced budget. How can we advocate for some of that funding for municipalities for resource providers? We're talking about resources to help people survive and there's almost a billion dollars to be spent," Zarro said.

City officials are considering the creation of an Encampment Task Force to ensure coordinated outreach for campers, but say the lack of housing in Portland may require their relocation to other communities in Maine. The city will likely move the Bayside Trail encampment in the next 3 weeks.

The Bayside Encampment has about 50 tents housing more than 50 people.