Two South Portland hotels that were expected to stop housing homeless people by the end of June will continue providing emergency shelter indefinitely, officials said Wednesday.

New Gen Hospitality Management had already extended its contract with MaineHousing once before, after owner Suresh Gali said the Days Inn and Comfort Inn would stop sheltering homeless individuals by the end of May.

Gali had responded to public safety concerns he heard from business owners near the Maine Mall, who complained during a community meeting in February about intoxicated and harassing behavior of some hotel guests.

Efforts by local and state officials to open an alternative emergency shelter so far have failed, however, so both hotels will continue to host overflow from Portland’s Oxford Street Shelter well past Thursday’s deadline.

Portland City Manager Danielle West and South Portland City Manager Scott Morelli issued a joint statement explaining the situation to the Press Herald on Wednesday.

“While we had hoped to find alternate arrangements by now, individuals experiencing homelessness will continue receiving emergency shelter at the two contract hotels in South Portland,” they said. “This arrangement is proposed to continue until the new shelter opens in Portland in early 2023.”


The two hotels are housing about 280 indigent individuals. Portland is building a $25 million, 208-bed homeless shelter and service center at 654 Riverside St., on the outskirts of the city. The facility is intended to replace the Oxford Street Shelter, which can serve 150 people.

Gali didn’t respond to an email Wednesday seeking an interview for this story.

In the meantime, Portland officials, state agencies and social service providers are working on a plan to offer enhanced support services and security at the two hotels, the city managers said.

The plan will be provided to the South Portland City Council when it holds a public hearing on the hotels’ licenses to address community concerns about public safety and increased calls for service generated by hotel guests. That hearing likely will occur in August, they said.

Portland officials also continue to work with regional and state partners “to find solutions for emergency shelter that do not include the use of hotels as it’s an expensive and inefficient way of providing these support services, and unhoused members of our community are best served in congregate settings,” the city managers said.

City and state officials had been working on a plan to open a temporary emergency shelter at an undisclosed location in Portland using money from the state’s supplemental budget. That plan fell through this month after they determined that the city’s new green building code would require several months of costly renovations because it would be considered a change of use.

State officials involved in the alternative shelter effort didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Portland has provided emergency shelter to record numbers of people in the past year. Currently, 506 single adults are being housed at the Oxford Street Shelter and in area hotels.

In addition, 20 families (59 individuals) are staying in the city’s family shelter and 270 families (943 individuals) are staying in area hotels, including the Quality Inn and Howard Johnson in South Portland. Most are asylum seekers from central African countries.

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