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Portland, County Officials Develop Plan For Winter Homeless Shelters

Cumberland County officials are working with the City of Portland on a plan to create additional space for the homeless this winter at a community corrections center and a local hotel.

During the pandemic, the city has been forced to reduce capacity at its Oxford Street shelter. It has been using the Portland Expo building as an overflow shelter in recent months, but that option will end in about a week because of other commitments. Under the new plan, the city would use the county’s community corrections center to house about 50 people through the end of April.

City spokesperson Jessica Grondin says the city is also working to secure rooms for up to 149 people at a local hotel, with funding coming from the state. If approved, Grondin says the plan would potentially offer more beds this winter, compared to previous years.

“That’s something that we’re pretty happy about, going into the winter. People should know there are plenty of beds available. And we do encourage them to seek shelter with us,” she says.

City councilors had hoped to use Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena as a temporary shelter during the winter, but county commissioners rejected that plan last month, saying they didn’t think it was feasible to house people in the structure.

Preble Street has also submitted an application to transform its resource center, which was forced to close during the pandemic, into a 40-bed shelter. The city’s planning commission will hold a hearing on the project Tuesday night.