Portland is recognized as a city that welcomes immigrants with open arms. When a state policy changed in 2015, causing some asylum seekers to be ineligible for General Assistance funds, Portland created a Community Support Fund to help those who fell in the GA gap. The Community Support Fund has since been essential in the lives of asylum seekers, but on April 1, Portland closed off the Community Support Fund to any future applicants without warning.

Our organizations serve asylum seekers facing the direct results of this decision. Individuals and families who are stably housed have been informed that they will not receive GA rental vouchers because of their immigration status. With no way to pay their rent, they face eviction. Other families currently experiencing homelessness now have no path to housing because they are not eligible for financial assistance.

Closing the Community Support Fund to new arrivals to our city has dire moral consequences. Our neighbors deserve to have homes; they deserve to have a way to eat and to feed their families. After coming to our city seeking safety, they do not deserve to live in fear that the bit of security they have will be taken away.

Closing Community Support funding will also create a serious strain on city resources. Individuals and families left without housing will be forced to return to city shelters, which are already operating at capacity. We cannot afford to push people back into homelessness.

We urge the Portland City Council to allocate additional Community Support funds for the remainder of this fiscal year, and to approve a minimum of $200,000 for the Community Support Fund beginning July 1. We must act now; too much is at stake not to.

Mufalo Chitam

Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition

Sara Ewing-Merrill

Greater Portland Family Promise

Portland


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