Portland Expo to once again house asylum seekers

The facility is expected to be at capacity when it opens on April 10
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - The city of Portland announced Thursday that it will open the Portland Expo on April 10 to provide temporary emergency housing for asylum seekers.

Interim City Manager Danielle West had outlined the plans in late March, saying the housing option would start “around” April 10.

Since Jan. 1, the city says about 1,000 asylum seekers have sought shelter and services in Portland. The city has been using a public school gymnasium to serve as an overnight overflow shelter space but will now shift to the Expo now that the Maine Celtics no longer need it.

“This is a very dire situation and the opening of the Expo is the last overnight overflow space that we as city staff have available to open and operate,” West said on Thursday. “We are truly beyond our capacity to be able to continue to provide compassionate care for those seeking shelter. We specifically do not have further ability to assist in terms of additional locations, staffing, or other resources.”

West said she hoped a new facility would be available in the area this summer to help meet the need.

The Expo will be able to accommodate about 300 people and is expected to be full when it opens. Services there will only be available to those who are registered to stay at the Expo.

This is not the first time the city has used the Expo to house asylum seekers. As it did back in 2019 when the Expo was used to accommodate a sudden influx of 86 asylum seekers, the city is once again asking the community to help with donations. Money can be given online by visiting www.portlandmaine.gov/donate or texting the word EXPO to 91999. Donations can also be mailed or dropped off at City Hall.