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Federal money helping those in Maine find shelter in hotels set to expire at end of the year

Maine State Housing Authority has helped more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness find shelter in hotels since the beginning of the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Maine — Throughout the pandemic, Maine State Housing Authority has helped more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness find shelter in hotels, but that federal money is set to expire at the end of the year.

“It’s been an invaluable tool to us throughout the pandemic,” Daniel Brennan, Director of Maine State Housing Authority, said.

Brennan said FEMA has funded more than $10 million since the start of the pandemic. He said Maine State Housing Authority has six contracts with local organizations to help manage the hotels across the state. The agency is asking those organizations to provide a plan for what to do next.

“We’ve asked each of those providers to provide us with a depopulation plan so that they can work with the clients and move them into other settings that will help them as we look to the end of this funding,” Brennan said.

One of the organizations is Preble Street.

“Just in Scarborough alone, we provided 8,000-bed nights to clients. So that’s 8,000 nights people weren’t on a mat. We’re in the process of developing the new wellness shelter which will be located in downtown Portland, where the Preble Street Resource Center used to be. That will be a 40-bed shelter,” Henry Myer, Program Director at the Preble Street quarantine shelter said.

Maine State Housing Authority is also looking ahead.

“We’ve engaged some national consultants. We’ve worked with the statewide homeless council and we’ve come up with sort of a new vision for Maine that’s based around nine service hubs. Let’s tap into those partnerships that already exist and have a regional approach where regional folks are deciding what is best for their particular area,” Brennan said.  

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