Contributed by Jessica Grondin
Director of Communications & Digital Services
City of Portland

PORTLAND, Maine — The City of Portland is pleased to announce it has launched an application process for community partners to request reimbursement for the assistance they provided while the City managed an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers this past summer. The City of Portland operated an emergency shelter at the Portland Expo between June 9 and August 15, processing intake for almost 450 people. During that time, the City was able to house more than 200 people with additional families being placed in host homes and others staying at the City’s Family Shelter until housing units could be found and arranged. The Expo shelter was the first time the City had run a 24/7 emergency family shelter operation.

“Although our community partners came to the aid of asylum seekers with no expectation of being reimbursed for costs incurred, on behalf of the City Council, I’m pleased to announce a funding opportunity for nonprofit entities who assisted during this influx,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “This funding opportunity has been made possible by the generosity of more than 4,000 donors.”

The City received over $900,000 in donations this summer to help provide assistance to the asylum seekers as they arrived and settled in Maine. Organizations interested in receiving the reimbursement application should send an email to [email protected], including the name of the organization and a contact person. The City will then send the Community Partner Application for Reimbursement and any updates on the application process. A frequently asked questions document will be posted to the City’s website and updated as needed. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they are received. The City expects to begin disbursing the approved funds in January.

“First and foremost, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the many groups who provided support this past summer,” said Kristen Dow, the City’s Health & Human Services Director. “We know there’s a need in the community and so we want to assist our partners who helped in this effort. We remain grateful for the outpouring of support from around the state and nation. Without the commitment and assistance from our community partners our emergency effort to aid asylum seekers would not have been as successful as it was.”

The cost to run the Expo emergency shelter for asylum seekers exceeded $400,000. The City has yet to receive reimbursement for any General Assistance FY20 activity as there is typically a 3-6 month lag in the billing and reimbursement process.

In October, the City of Portland Family Shelter was awarded a reimbursement of $864,079 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP). These funds will not be appropriated as they were awarded to defray costs for expenditures already incurred.