Forty-two families are now staying at a Freeport hotel as housing for asylum-seekers has reached “a crises situation” in Portland.

Due to an overflow of asylum seekers arriving in Portland, the Casco Bay Inn has been designated a satellite shelter. The recent arrivals join 15 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola who arrived at the beginning of the month, according to Freeport Community Services Executive Director Sarah Lundin.

“These families when they’re arriving in the U.S. at the southern border, their destination is Portland,” Lundin said. “In response to an incredible amount of folks wanting to come and relocate here and Portland not having the capacity at their shelters, they’ve had to establish satellite shelters, which is how this all got started.”

The families range in age and number, said Lundin, who declined to arrange interviews with the newcomers, citing previous trauma they have experienced and the stress contact with the media might add.

Other overflow shelters in Westbrook, South Portland and Old Orchard Beach are helping to meet the growing need of people seeking asylum in southern Maine, according to Portland Resettlement Coordinator Chelsea Hoskin. The city of Portland has contracted with 10 hotels across five municipalities.

The owner of the Casco Bay Inn offered the hotel as a satellite shelter.


“We are happy to play a small part in helping asylum seekers acclimate to the United States,” Stephen Leonard told The Forecaster.

As of Jan. 14, Portland was providing shelter to 225 families, for a total of 735 people, at its two city shelters and the hotels, according to a Health and Human Services memorandum. Most recently, 30 families arrived in the city from Jan. 3 to 14. City staff told councilors at a Jan. 19 Portland City Council meeting that the city is seeing the highest ever nightly averages of people in need of shelter, according to a Jan. 24 article in the Portland Press Herald.

“Simply put, we are in a crisis situation,” Health and Human Services Director Kristen Dow told the council.

Lundin said the Freeport hotel will remain a shelter for at least one year, possibly longer. Once permanent housing is found for one family staying at there, another family seeking asylum will move in, and so on until the shelter closes.

Children among the families staying at the Freeport hotel will attend Regional School Unit 5, which serves Freeport, Durham and Pownal.

The students who are in kindergarten through 12th grade will join 13 other asylum seekers who are already enrolled, according to Superintendent Becky Foley. RSU 5 does not have a school-based interpreter, she said, but it offers English Language Learner classes and is seeking an additional ELL teacher to help the new students. School staff has already received professional development to provide appropriate programming for students with limited English skills, she said.


“Our community will be strengthened by these new families,” Foley said in an opinion column in the Jan. 20 Forecaster.

She did not yet know how many new students would be attending.

Freeport Community Services has set up an onsite food pantry for the families and is providing clothing and other necessities. Lundin asked that people who want to help refrain from dropping off donations directly to the hotel. Those interested in helping can check Freeport Community Service’s website,, and its social media accounts for what families need and how to donate.

“We have established a very organized and contained system,” Lundin said. “Staff at the hotel work with families to identify their most basic needs as they arrive, and then those needs get communicated to us, and if we don’t have the items within our facility, either through our thrift shop or food pantry, then we put it out to the general public.”

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