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County commissioners advance plan to build 24-unit homeless shelter in Lewiston-Auburn

A 24-unit shelter in Lewiston or Auburn is one step closer to reality after Androscoggin County Commissioners voted to finance the purchase of 24 modular housing units.

Sally Christner, Androscoggin County Commission Chair, says the roughly $520,000 price tag to buy the units will come from American Rescue Plan Funds the county has yet to spend.

"We have these ARPA funds available," she says. "We want to help the cities. We understand this is a problem that belongs to everyone, not just Auburn and Lewiston."

Christner says the county will donate the units to the Twin Cities, which must still find a feasible site for the modular shelter as well as funding for utilities, sewer, storage and other costs.

Auburn Assistant City Manager Brian Wood says the goal is to find a site that is connected with social services and then determine the additional funding needed to make the project happen by winter.

"Right now our primary focus is, let's find a site, let's figure out what the gap will be from what the county allocated and what that site needs to be operational in a timely manner," he says.

It's hoped the shelter can house 48 people over the winter months.