By: Tobin Williamson

Approximately 300 asylum seekers in family groups have arrived in the Portland area since the city of Portland announced on May 5 that it could no longer guarantee services for them. Since that time, MIRC has continued to assist people in finding access to housing and food. Though the number of new arrivals has slowed in recent weeks, hundreds of people remain in need of essential services.

Recently, the Greater Portland Council of Governments announced their “Safe in Maine” initiative, which aims to build 200 units of transitional housing for asylum seekers within two years. The announcement featured remarks from Portland Mayor Kate Snyder, Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley, GPCOG’s Belinda Ray, and MIRC’s Executive Director Mufalo Chitam.

“The creation of transitional housing for asylum seekers is a systematic and structural change we’ve long been advocating for. This initiative exemplifies what meaningful investment in the lives of immigrants looks like.”

Mufalo Chitam

To learn more about the initiative and/or make a contribution to the fund, please visit The fund is a project of the Center for Regional Prosperity.

MIRC also continues to lead a culturally appropriate food distribution program, six days a week. We have a new part-time staff member and summer interns who have been a huge asset in this work, assisting MIRC staff member Madeleine Saucier and community partners who have been leading this initiative since last fall. We commonly distribute 400 meals every day.

We are always looking for food program volunteers to help with this effort. Please visit for a link to pick date(s) and time(s) to help if you are able. Volunteering is a two-hour afternoon commitment at the Root Cellar in Portland. This is a great way to have a positive impact on the well-being of hundreds of people!