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Portland postpones encampment sweep after city council passes resolution in opposition

The Maine Department of Transportation, along with workers from the city of Portland, prepare to clear the tent encampment at the park-and-ride lot on Marginal Way in Portland on Nov. 1, 2023.
Ari Snider
/
Maine Public
The Maine Department of Transportation, along with workers from the city of Portland, prepare to clear the tent encampment at the park-and-ride lot on Marginal Way in Portland on Nov. 1, 2023.

Portland City Councilors approved a resolution Monday night opposing the plans to clear a large homeless encampment under the Casco Bay Bridge.

The resolution passed by a 7-2 vote, with Mayor Mark Dion among those in opposition.

At last night's city council meeting, social workers reiterated their concerns that removing the encampment would separate them from the unhoused people they're trying to place into shelter.

"I have not seen a single sweep resolve any of this. It has only made things harder, and it makes it harder on the city. You’re wasting your own resources," said Braelyn Doyle, an outreach case worker.

The city had planned to clear the Harbor View Memorial Park encampment on Tuesday. But the city is now planning to postpone any action until after Christmas.

"The Council passed a resolution expressing its opposition to the scheduled resolution of encampments on 12/19. We hear their concerns, and are postponing any encampment resolution to 12/28. Until that time, we will continue intensive outreach efforts in collaboration with community partners," Portland spokesperson Jessica Grondin.

"There's a misconception that I hear a lot, that in advocating to stop the sweeps that we're advocating to leave people outside. And I really encourage others to expand their viewpoint on that," said Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier. "If we had it up to us, everybody would be safely inside with a warm bed, but the reality is that's not the case."