PORTLAND -- The Cumberland County Commissioners on Monday awarded more than $4.5 million toward the construction of shelters in Portland and Brunswick, and a study for emergency housing in the Lakes Region.
The County Commissioners voted unanimously to direct $3 million from the County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to the city of Portland, for construction of the city’s new shelter.
Portland has committed to a new $25 million Homeless Services Center with on‐site food, medical, counseling and transit services on the Westbrook/Portland line, which will continue to serve people experiencing homelessness. The project is an expansion of the city’s existing program, with a new approach to provide complete wraparound on‐site food, medical, counseling and transit services.
“The new Portland shelter will offer modern solutions to the challenges facing people who are struggling with homelessness,” said County Manager James Gailey. “The Commissioners are excited to contribute toward safe housing with integrated services that will have strong outcomes.”
The Commissioners also voted unanimously to dedicate over $1.6 million in ARPA funds for two projects at Tedford Housing, a Brunswick-based organization that runs emergency shelter space and case management in the Brunswick region. The first project will see $1.5 million go toward construction of Tedford’s new shelter space in Brunswick, which will serve people from Brunswick and its surrounding towns in need of shelter and critical support.
Tedford Housing currently operates a sixteen-bed adult shelter and a six‐unit family shelter, both located in Brunswick. The organization is planning to construct a new sixty four-bed emergency housing building in Brunswick that will serve individual adults and families experiencing homelessness. The new building will include twenty four adult shelter beds and ten family apartment‐style units.
The ten family apartment units will contain four beds each, as well as living and dining spaces in each unit. The building also includes space for case management and administrative offices, allowing Tedford to more quickly provide wraparound services for permanent housing and other supports.
“The Commissioners are impressed with Tedford’s wraparound model,” Gailey said. “We were glad that we’re able to support a program that needs to expand in order to meet the growing need for emergency housing in the Brunswick area.”
The second Tedford Housing project will conduct a significant study of people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in the Lakes Region of Cumberland County, including the towns of Baldwin, Casco, Bridgton, Harrison, Naples, Raymond, and Sebago.
Tedford Housing will perform a needs assessment, conduct a feasibility study, and make recommendations for implementation of programs and services that address the unique needs of the region, including programming and service center space.
Currently, there are limited programs in the Lakes Region that aid and support people experiencing homelessness with emergency or permanent housing, or assist those at risk of housing insecurity to successfully maintain permanent housing. Based on identified needs, the study will evaluate potential locations for a service center or centers - including exploring zoning and other land use restrictions at three potential sites for homeless services - and other barriers to development of these facilities, including community impact, environmental factors, accessibility, and existence of complementary services.
The cost of the study is $106,642.
“We’ve been researching this issue for a few years now,” Gailey said. “There is definitely a need for a support system in the Lakes Region that will help people stay in their community, with the support they need to secure permanent housing. We’re looking forward to exploring those options with Tedford.”
Cumberland County is currently reviewing more than 100 pre-applications submitted by regional non-profits and municipalities, totaling over $88 million in requests for ARPA funding across a range of categories including affordable housing, child care, substance use disorder treatment, and public health, among others. The County has made $11 million available in competitive funds this winter, and will release future rounds of competitive grants when the second round of ARPA funds is released in spring of 2022.