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Portland urges homeless people gathering at Deering Oaks Park to utilize local shelters

Even though the shelters at Oxford Street and the Portland Expo are limiting capacity due to COVID-19, they are not at capacity and there is room available.

PORTLAND, Maine — Since members of Maine's homeless community ended a weeks-long protest outside city hall earlier this month, groups continue to gather at Portland's Deering Oaks Park.

This is also where city leaders say they are continuing to reach out, letting people know what services and resources are available.

"Our parks are available to everyone who wants to use them so we are certainly not in a position or looking to just move people out of the parks," Jessica Grondin, the city's communications director, said. "Everyone has the right to be in the parks as long as they are following the rules.  

She said right now there is space available at the Oxford Street Shelter and at the Portland Expo. They are both low-barrier shelters, meaning a person who needs to use the shelter does not need to be sober or prove they are sober to do so.

Capacity is being capped at 75 at each shelter amid the pandemic. 

"Last night we had about 50 people at Oxford Street and about 40 at the Expo," Grondin told NEWS CENTER Maine on Tuesday.

Grondin also said the city is looking for locations to create a new day space, meaning a place where people can access basic needs and services during the daytime hours.

"We are as a city committed to helping our people and doing everything we can with the resources that we have," she said.

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