Federal funding being used to pay for emergency shelter in Portland has been extended through July 1.

The funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has helped the city cope with an influx of asylum seekers, was set to expire April 1. But members of Maine’s congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills last month asked FEMA and President Biden for an extension.

“Maine communities are continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and prematurely ending emergency aid would only stunt our recovery,” Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, Rep. Chellie Pingree and Mills said in a joint statement Tuesday. “We will continue to advocate for additional opportunities to help our communities safely recover from the pandemic without taking on a significant and potentially damaging financial burden.”

The FEMA funds were first authorized by Biden in January 2021 to help communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of Portland currently uses them to cover 30 percent of the cost of emergency shelter, while the state covers the remaining 70 percent.

The funds have helped provide shelter for about 1,150 people, many of them asylum seekers, that the city is currently housing in its two shelters as well as area hotels. Right now, there is no cost to Portland taxpayers, though the city’s director of finance warned officials in January that there could be significant budget impacts in the coming fiscal year if the funding disappears.

“We are thankful for the support of Governor Mills and Maine’s Congressional delegation,” city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said in an email Tuesday. “This funding is vital as the City of Portland continues to provide emergency shelter to record numbers of individuals and families.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.