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

The Brunswick Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved final plans for a new 64-bed emergency homeless shelter near Cook’s Corner.

The 17,568-square-foot facility will allow Tedford Housing to consolidate its two existing Brunswick shelters, increasing the adult emergency housing from 16 to 24 beds and having space to accommodate up to 10 families. It is planned for two vacant lots on Thomas Point Road.

Founded in 1987, Tedford Housing is a Brunswick-based nonprofit that aids the homeless in the Midcoast. The organization has been looking to create a new shelter since 2013, citing aging facilities, although until recently zoning issues stood in the way.

“The community showed that they really do understand the importance of having this resource in Brunswick to help those who are experiencing homelessness,” Tedford Housing Executive Director Rota Knott said. “When it’s minus-15 degrees out, people need a place to be and there’s really no excuse for us not having a resource, a place that can help people who need shelter.”

The board’s approval is contingent on six conditions involving potential sidewalks, sewer and water systems, and other planning-related details.

Knott estimated that the facility will cost about $8 million. It will be paid for through grants, donations and other fundraising. Knott said the organization hopes to break ground this summer to be moved in by 2023.


During the opportunities for public input, 14 people commented on the proposal, 11 of whom spoke in favor and three of whom raised concerns. According to Brunswick Director of Planning & Development Matt Panfil, about 39 people submitted written comments.

“How can we in good conscience continue to close an eye to the suffering of fellow human beings?” said Brunswick resident Jean Konzal, who spoke in favor of the proposal. “Everyone deserves a place to live, a place to call home. No matter what circumstances drove some to lose their home they deserve a chance to reclaim their lives.”

Town Councilors Dan Ankeles and Kathy Wilson, as well as state Rep. Poppy Arford, also advocated for the proposal.

“The new emergency housing facility on Thomas Point Road will provide modern, clean, safe and efficient accommodation for our fellow citizens experiencing homelessness,” said Gifford Jamison, director of programs at Tedford Housing. “Particularly on nights like tonight, with wind chills plummeting to sub-zero temperatures, safe accommodations are a critical live saving part of the safety net that is essential to thriving communities like Brunswick.”

Those that spoke against generally pushed back on the location.

“Where do the pedestrians go?” said Brunswick resident Fran Fontanez, who voiced safety concerns about people walking on the road.


There are currently no sidewalks on Thomas Point Road, and while the town is looking to add them in the future, a timeline for when that might be done is uncertain.

Cook’s Corner is a predominantly commercial area, populated by strip malls and chain stores. The area that Tedford plans to build on is approximately a quarter mile down Thomas Point Road, across from the Cook’s Corner Walmart. The road leads to more residential streets as well as the Thomas Point Beach and Campground.

Tedford plans to provide transportation through a van as well as taxi and bus fare. Brunswick’s public transportation also has a stop at Walmart.

In the 2021 fiscal year, Tedford Housing was able to serve 38 individuals in the adult shelter and another 48 people consisting of 15 families in the family shelter. During the same period, the organization turned away 284 individual adults and 74 family members looking for services due to capacity.

Tedford Housing’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

For 2021, the average length of stay was 74 days in the adult shelter and 124 days in the family shelter.


According to Knott, the pandemic impacted fiscal year 2021 and 2020 data through the stay-at-home order, moratorium on evictions, availability of rent relief and the reduced capacity at the adult shelter due to social distancing.

Prior to the pandemic, in fiscal year 2019, Tedford turned away 251 individual adults and 205 family members. In fiscal year 2018, the turn-away numbers stood at 354 individuals and 228 family members.

There are 42 emergency shelters listed in the state by the Maine State Housing Authority, nine of which are in Cumberland County.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2020 annual homeless assessment report states that, on a single night in January 2020, there were 2,097 people in Maine experiencing homelessness, 141 of whom were unsheltered.

This translates to 15.6 out of every 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Maine on that day.

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