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Portland officials discuss location for new homeless shelter

Portland leaders met Tuesday night at City Hall to discuss location options for a new homeless shelter in the city.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland officials met Tuesday night at City Hall to discuss potential locations for a new homeless shelter in the city. 

The city is planning to build a new one story, state of the art facility to replace the closing Oxford Street shelter, but leaders are not able to agree on a location.

"The challenge has really been convincing people that there's a different path, a different way forward," said Portland City Manager Jon Jennings. "You're not going to see all of the chaos that you currently see on Oxford Street or Preble Street in the new model that we're proposing."

Jennings said that the 14 locations proposed at Tuesday night's meeting were taken from a list of more than 650 options.

The choices were narrowed down to 11 during the meeting, as city officials vetoed Barron Center, Former West School, and the Rosemont Fire Station Land as potential locations.

The remaining options are as follows:

  • 3 Hutchins Drive
  • 33 Portland Street
  • 83 Middle Street
  • 622 Auburn Street
  • 1819 Westbrook Street
  • Angelo's Acre
  • County Way Acquisition
  • Franklin Reserve
  • Riverside Industrial Park
  • Thames Street parking lot
  • Warren Avenue Realty Site

City officials also added Riverside Street Parcel to the list during Tuesday night's meeting.

"People are concerned," Portland city councilor Belinda Ray said. "Because it's difficult to look at our current shelter facility and not be worried that should a shelter come to your community, this is what your community will now look like."

In the last few months the City of Portland has entertained several options including relocating the shelter to the Barron Center near the Westbrook town line and even using a cruise ship in dry dock to house the homeless. However, community members didn't bite.

In addition to the presentation of the sites, other members of the community came forward and spoke about different resources that can be provided to work hand in hand with the new shelter.

Now, city officials will compare the final 11 sites to their criteria and decide with location to move forward with.

"We need to move quickly because we have an untenable situation and we want to provide better facilities and better service," Ray said. "But we will not move hastily, so I hope people keep that in mind."

The committee is planning to continue discussion about the remaining location possibilities at its next meeting the second week of February. Once that is determined they will open the floor for public discussion.


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