After almost a decade of looking to expand, Tedford Housing is proposing a new emergency shelter for Brunswick’s homeless.

The 17,568-square-foot facility would be built off Thomas Point Road in Cooks Corner. A preliminary review and a public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Tedford runs two shelters in downtown Brunswick, one for adults and one for families. The proposed building would replace the existing shelters and consolidate them into one facility with two wings.

Renderings of Tedford Housing’s proposed new facility in Brunswick. Courtesy of Tedford Housing.

This would increase adult emergency housing capacity from 16 to 24 beds, and the family capacity from six to 10 families. Sixty-four emergency housing beds would be available. The facility would have office space.

“Homelessness continues to be an issue in our community,” Tedford Housing Executive Director Rota Knott said. “Our buildings are not appropriate given their age and their configurations for the services that we need to be providing for residents of our community experiencing homelessness.”

Tedford Housing’s Cumberland Street unit in Brunswick, as seen in this March 2017 file photo (Ben Goodridge / The Times Record)

Between July 2020 and July 2021, Tedford turned away 284 individuals and 74 families due because it didn’t have space. In total, thirty-eight adult guests and 15 families were given rooms. The average stay in the adult shelter was 74 days and 124 days for the family shelter.


According to Knott, the demand for beds is not a new issue.

During the 2020 fiscal year the average shelter stay was 88 days for the adult shelter, and 134 days for the family shelter. Prior to the pandemic, which Knott said caused a significant jump in stay-length, the average stay was 53 days in the adult shelter, and 92 days in the family shelter during the 2019 fiscal year.

Tedford has wanted to expand since 2013. Until recently, however, zoning stood in the way.

The Cooks Corner location — a predominantly commercial area in Brunswick — was selected after reviewing hundreds of properties and receiving feedback from clients, Knott said. The location offers clients a wide range of needed services, she added, such as proximity to the hospital, mental health services and Walmart — which provides employment, food and supplies for people.

“The other reason is that there are very few zones in the town of Brunswick where shelters are now allowed as a conditional use,” Knott said. “We had to identify those sites and that narrowed it down considerably.”

According to Brunswick Planning and Development Director Matt Panfil, of the 27 zoning districts in the growth area, Tedford’s facility would be allowed in seven of them.


Knott said she encourages anyone with questions or concerns to contact Tedford Housing.

“We just hope that the neighbors are willing to engage in dialogue with us and to learn about us and what we really are planning,” Knott said.

Tedford does not yet know how much the building will cost. Tedford plans to fund construction through gifts, grants and short-term loans and hopes to break ground on the project next year.

According to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2020 annual homeless assessment report, on a single night in January of 2020, 2,097 Maine people were homeless, 141 of which were unsheltered.

This translates to 15.6 out of every 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Maine on that day, although, Knott said she believes the numbers are greater.

The Maine State Housing Authority has 42 total emergency shelters listed, nine of which are in Cumberland County.

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