PORTLAND, Maine — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above aired on Feb. 28, 2022.
The city of Portland said in an email Thursday that it can no longer guarantee shelter for those who arrive in the city and are in need of housing.
Kristen Dow, Portland's director of health and human services, said in an email to organizations at the southern border that there is no additional capacity at city shelters or hotels in Portland.
"I am writing this email to alert you to the fact that as of the date of this email, there is no further shelter OR hotel capacity in Portland, Maine. We have been over capacity in our shelter for quite some time and have now reached the point where the hotels we have been utilizing are also full," Dow wrote.
According to Jessica Grondin, Portland director of communications, the city was providing shelter for 1,717 people as of Wednesday, May 4. That number includes families and single adults being housed at city-operated shelters and hotels partnering with the city to offer shelter.
"Please know, that as a result of our capacity limitations, if your organization sends a family to Portland, Maine they are no longer guaranteed shelter upon their arrival to our shelter. Additionally, because our staff are spread quite thin, it is not guaranteed that we will be in a position to aid individuals in their search for emergency housing. I ask that you all share this information widely within your organizations and with families you are working with," Dow continued.
The city has been overwhelmed by the number of people its providing shelter to for months. In January, city officials told NEWS CENTER Maine the city was providing housing to 1,198 people.
Grondin wrote in an email to NEWS CENTER Maine on Thursday that the city has not turned anyone away yet, but if that does happen, people would be given a general assistance voucher and would have to find housing or shelter on their own.
"We do not want to turn anyone away, that has never been our goal. But we are alerting our partners to this now in the hopes that we can get ahead of it and not have to," Grondin wrote.
Grondin added that within the first four days of May, 30 families have arrived in the city needing shelter.
"We just do not have the capacity or resources to assist more at this time. We are out of hotel space and our staff are stretched too thin," Grondin said.
New Gen Hospitality Management LLC, which owns the Days Inn and Comfort Inn in South Portland, alerted city officials in February that it would not renew its contract with MaineHousing to shelter people after May 31.