BRUNSWICK — About a dozen of the 30 to 40 migrants expected to find housing in Brunswick moved into the Captain’s Way development Friday.

A local developer with Brunswick Landing Venture offered the recent asylum seekers up to three months of rent-free assistance at the Brunswick landing development and WGME-TV reported that roughly five families with 12 people were the first to move in Friday.

The total number of people who are coming and what services they will be eligible for are still up in the air, Town Manager John Eldridge said. Both the town and the school department were trying to get everything in place for when the rest of the asylum seekers arrive.

In June, more than 100 asylum seekers from African countries entered Portland within a matter of days, and city officials rapidly readied themselves for up to 250 more, setting up an emergency operations center and gathering cots, linens, food, health-care providers and translators. The migrants have been staying at the Portland Expo basketball arena and the city has been working to find a longer-term housing solution.

As part of that effort, the city asked for help in dealing with the influx of asylum seekers, most of whom are “fleeing violence and persecution in the sub-Saharan countries of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

“We are in a very critical emergency situation,” Portland City Manager Jon Jennings said in June.


Asylum seekers are prohibited from working until at least six months after filing their asylum applications. Many end up sleeping in homeless shelters and relying on public assistance. Portland has its own immigrant relief fund, but Brunswick’s general assistance fund operates under mandates set by the state, which means that many of the families initially won’t be eligible for general assistance, Eldridge said.

“There are lots of people wanting to help,” he said, and securing housing through Brunswick Landing Venture, owned by Chris Rhoades, is a major step forward.

“As everybody knows, being housed in the Expo isn’t exactly housing,” Eldridge said.

Meanwhile, the Brunswick school department also is trying to mobilize, figuring out how to best offer services such as English language assistance to the families and determine if they might qualify for federal funds under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said.

Last year, there were 34 students in the district receiving English language learning services, and while Brunswick’s immigrant population is small compared to Portland’s, “they’re here and we do offer services,” he said.

Perzanoski and Eldridge are working with Assistant Superintendent Shawn Lambert and Assistant Town Manager Ryan Leighton to develop a plan and a task force of three school board members and three town councilors to start the planning process.


“There are a lot of different players,” he said, “everything is very new.”

People are already reaching out to help, with offers coming from all different avenues, he said. In the meantime, they are trying to determine “what the expectations are and what we can do.”

Anyone who wants to offer assistance can call the Town of Brunswick at (207) 725- 6659.

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