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Some Asylum Seekers To Move From Portland Expo Center To Housing In Brunswick

Julie Pike
Maine Public

The city of Portland has made arrangements to move several asylum seekers from emergency shelters in the city to private housing in Brunswick.

Brunswick administrators say they are expecting up to 40 of the new arrivals, who have come to Portland in recent weeks after entering by way of the southern U.S. border. More than 250 asylum seekers are staying at an emergency shelter inside the Portland Expo building. But the shelter is only available until mid-August.

Jessica Grondin, the communications director for the city of Portland, says the plan is to initially move about 20 people to Brunswick, with some arriving Friday.

"Seeing how that goes," she says. "Making sure that it's okay for the families and a good situation, in terms of us still being able to interact with them. And then should that be successful, I think then we potentially would look to try to move 20 more."

Grondin says a developer offered the Brunswick housing rent-free for a period of time, but she says the city of Portland will continue to ensure that services like food, education and health care are provided to the families.

"It's those kinds of services that we need to make sure are still accessible for folks,” Grondin says. :We certainly just don't want to move families and not have them have the resources that they need to be able to be here and thrive."

Portland has budgeted about $200,000 in its Community Support Fund to assist asylum seekers, and has raised an additional $800,000 through donations. The city says it can accommodate about 110 people in overflow shelters but expects to need to find housing for about 150 people over the next month. One option is a "host home" program, in which local families open up spaces in their house.