PORTLAND, Maine — In less than 48 hours, the asylum seekers, who are staying at the Portland Expo, will need to be out of there.
On Thursday, August 15, the city will close the temporary shelter, so it can be turned back over to the Maine Red Claws basketball team.
There are 132 asylum seekers still staying at the Expo.
"We need to get down to 110," says Portland's Communications Director Jessica Grondin.
Grondin says that count of 110 people is the maximum number the city's two overflow shelters can accommodate -- which are "the warming center at the Family Shelter on Chestnut Street and the Salvation Army gym, but remember that's a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. operation."
That means the asylum seekers who end up at shelters will have to leave them for 12 hours during the day -- something they didn't have to do at the Expo.
"We've been preparing them for a while, and they're aware. We've held several orientation classes, so people are aware of the existing resources in the community."
The city has already found permanent or temporary housing for 52 families, 156 people, spread out in places like Bath, Brunswick, Lewiston, Portland and Scarborough.
But, more places are needed...and now.
Grondin says they're confident they'll reach Thursday's goal.
"Thursday, the families who are left at the Expo will have lunch there -- then in the afternoon we'll start to move them into the new space."
It will be another new, temporary space for many asylum seekers with the promise of one day having their own place to call home.
"There's a number of different communities that have existing resources, and we're really relying on all of our partners right now," Grondin says.
Fifteen asylum seeking families have been placed with host families in the area. City officials are hoping more people will sign up for the host program that was created by the Greater Portland Council of Governments.
If you're interested in being a host family, you can visit www.host-homes.com to learn more.
Portland city officials continue to see a steady stream of asylum seekers -- not the numbers they had in June, which created the need for the temporary shelter at the Expo, but levels they've had over the last couple of years.
The new arrivals are being sent to Portland's family shelter.