Portland City Council To Vote On Funding Issues For Asylum Seekers

Jun 17, 2019

Portland officials say more than 220 asylum seekers have arrived in the city so far. 

About 60 families have fled Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and are staying in temporary housing set up at the Portland Expo.

Volunteers set up cots at the Expo Center in Portland
Credit Julie Pike / Maine Public

"We are already starting to talk about phase 2. Phase 2 is really moving folks out of the expo into temporary or permanent housing," says City Manager John Jennings.

Jennings says more than $350,000 in private donations have poured in since last Wednesday, along with food and linen contributions from local nonprofits. But Jennings says it would cost the city approximately $1.3 million to fully support all 60 families.

“Just because there are some in our community that think that the city should literally pay for everything, that doesn't mean that we can,” Jennings says. “But I think it is outrageous that anybody would say that the city would be turning its back after what we've done and what we continue to do.”

Jennings will meet with the City Council Monday night to discuss how to fund these efforts. The Council is expected to vote on whether or not to continue providing new asylum seekers financial support.