The South Portland City Council on Tuesday authorized the allocation of $3.4 million of its American Rescue Plan Funds for 11 projects and programs, most of which aim to combat homelessness and provide services and assistance to unhoused individuals and asylum-seeking families.

“You hear a lot of stories across the country about how some of this money has been misappropriated and not spent for its intended uses,” said Councilor Linda Cohen. “I feel like we’re doing something really good here and helping a lot of good groups in our area and our community to do good stuff.”

Roughly 85%, or nearly $2.9 million, of the allocated federal pandemic relief funds will go toward services for unhoused individuals and asylum-seeking families and to address the housing crisis.

The Opportunity Alliance, a social services organization in Cumberland County, received $814,000 for two initiatives. Its Community School Development Project at Memorial Middle School will receive $664,000, the largest sum the city allotted for a single project.

The South Portland City Council gave Preble Street $500,000 for its new food hub in Maine on Darling Avenue. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

The funding will help implement a public health program at the school intended to meet student needs that arose during the pandemic. The program also seeks to help students overcome barriers that impact their learning, such as poverty, racism and violence, according to their application.

Opportunity Alliance’s Cumberland County Homelessness Prevention Program will receive $150,000, which will be used to expand its current efforts in South Portland.


Preble Street was awarded $500,000 in funding for its Food Security Hub at 75 Darling Ave. The hub, scheduled to open next year, will work closely with many of Cumberland County’s farms, according to its application, with the goal of preserving local food and providing nutritious and sustainable meals to vulnerable populations.

Greater Portland Health received $288,000 in ARPA funds to expand its mental health services at the Brick Hill and South Portland High School locations, allowing for an additional 50-60 visits per week, according to its application. Part of that funding will allow the group to hire a community health worker to help connect people to those expanded services.

The Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine was given $369,000 in funding for its West End Solutions project to expand a day program and update the community room at the Brick Hill affordable apartment complex. The funds will also help provide transportation for unhoused youth as part of a program initiated this year to provide children living in hotels with an accessible afterschool program.

The city of Portland, which had requested over $430,000 toward the $25 million homeless service center it is building on the Portland-Westbrook line, received $229,000 of the requested amount.

Greater Portland Family Promise, a nonprofit organization that helps unhoused families find sustainable housing, received $200,000 for its homeless prevention program. The program provides case management to help families apply for SNAP and other public benefit programs and connects them with financial assistance, transportation and food services.

The South Portland Planning Department received $300,000 of its $1 million request to establish an affordable housing program, part of a multi-pronged approach the City Council is taking to address the housing crisis.


“The $300,000 allocated to the affordable housing program will not in and of itself produce units, but it will be an important resource to bridge certain barriers to either access housing, compete to secure State/Federal funding for larger housing projects, and even partially finance small unit construction, such as ADUs,” Planning Director Milan Nevajda said in an email to The Forecaster. “Our hope is to demonstrate the value that investment in housing can provide to the community as we work to build a long-term capitalization strategy for the City’s Housing Trust Fund.”

An ADU, or Accessory Dwelling Unit, is a smaller, secondary housing unit on the same property as a larger, primary home.

In other allocations, the South Portland Parks & Rec department received $75,000 for its before-and-after school care program that serves 150-200 elementary school children, according to its application. The funding allows the department to provide financial assistance for families who can’t afford to enroll their children in the program.

The South Portland Economic development department received $625,000 in funding for two projects, including $525,000 toward the construction of a community-wide broadband network. Another $100,000 will help establish a program to aid in the development of home-based daycare businesses.

“There was a lot of work that was put into this,” said Mayor Deqa Dhalac, who thanked both applicants and city staff for their efforts. “Congratulations to those who are selected. The other ones; you did (have) good applications, but we’ll see what happens on that.”

The city had planned to allocate the remaining $3.4 million it has in federal pandemic relief funds in the near future. However, a second round may be delayed, and could be less than the total remaining, according to City Manager Scott Morelli.

“We may actually hold off on even doing that,” Morelli said Tuesday. “It could be next year at this time, we find the situation in the hotels isn’t resolved and we probably prefer to tap into those funds instead of raising taxes to offset those costs.”

Comments are not available on this story.