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Portland Looks For More Host Families For Asylum Seekers, As Deadline To Leave Expo Looms

Julie Pike
Maine Public
Two girls play amid a sea of cots at the Portland Expo June 19, 2019.

With a deadline approaching to move recently arrived asylum seekers out of the Portland Expo, support organizations are seeking more host families to provide temporary housing. Kristina Egan, of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, says about 70 host families have submitted applications, but the matching process is complicated.

"To find the right chemistry, the right number of bedrooms, the right age of children, in order to find the best match between the asylum seeking family and the host family," Egan says.

Mufalo Chitam, of the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition, says the greatest need is for homes that can accommodate large families.

"We do have a lot of families of five and families of four in the Expo, so if we can get houses with two bedrooms, or two rooms, that would be ideal, we could move a lot of those families," Chitam says.

About two dozen families have been matched with host homes, but roughly 40 families still need placement by an Aug. 15 deadline to vacate the Expo.

The city of Portland is also seeking permanent housing for the families.