Maine’s largest city opens new homeless shelter

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:07 PM EDT
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(AP) - After years of planning, Maine’s largest city on Wednesday opened its new homeless shelter, shifting some homeless services away from downtown.

The formal opening of the 218-bed Homeless Services Center comes as Portland grapples with hundreds of asylum seekers who have arrived in the new year and are vying for beds with others experiencing homelessness.

When the first guests arrive next week, the new shelter will provide meals, healthcare, and psychiatric and substance abuse programs, as well as beds for people to sleep in, officials said. People slept on the floor on mats at a smaller emergency shelter that is being replaced.

The $25 million project’s completion comes at a time when the U.S. faces record numbers of people coming to the Mexico border seeking asylum.

Portland has welcomed about 780 asylum seekers to the city so far this year, a city spokesperson said Wednesday.

The Portland City Council selected the Riverton neighborhood for the shelter in 2019 despite concerns that it is several miles from downtown. Special shuttles will operate seven days a week, officials said.