South Portland City Hall

South Portland City Hall Kelley Bouchard photo/Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland City Council authorized $3.4 million of its federal pandemic relief funds.  

On Tuesday, June 21, it unanimously approved the $3.4 million for its American Rescue Plan Funds for 11 projects and programs. Most projects look to combat homelessness, supply services, and help unhoused individuals and asylum-seeking families.  

City Manager Scott Morelli has put forward a statement calling on the state of Maine to set up a Homeless Management Task Force. This is almost identical to a resolution passed two weeks ago by Portland’s City Council.

The number of individuals and families seeking emergency shelter in Portland and Maine has increased dramatically since the summer of 2020.  

In December 2021, during a city council workshop, city staff presented councilors with a proposed process for distributing the remaining American Rescue Plan Funds. Around $2.9 million of the distributed federal pandemic relief funds will go toward services for unhoused individuals and asylum-seeking families and address the housing crisis in South Portland.  

“You hear many 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.”   


The South Portland Planning Department received $300,000 of its $1 million request to establish an affordable housing program. This is part of several distinct approaches city council is taking to address the housing crisis in South Portland.  

“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 will see what happens to that.”  

Preble Street, expected to open its new South Portland location next year, was awarded $500,000 for its Food Security Hub. Greater Portland Health received $288,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help expand its mental health services at the Brick Hall and South Portland High School. The funds will allow an added 50-60 visits per week.

According to their application, part of the funding will enable the group to hire a community health worker.  

Opportunity Alliance, the community action agency for Cumberland County, received $814,000 for two initiatives. Its Homelessness Prevention Program will receive $150,000, expanding South Portland’s current efforts. Opportunity Alliance’s Community School Development project at Memorial Middle School is expected to receive $664,000. This is the most considerable sum the city has given for a single project. The funding will help carry out a public health program at the school. The program will help students overcome barriers that affect their learning. According to the Opportunity Alliance application, these barriers include poverty, racism, and violence.  

The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine was given $369,000 in funding for its West End Solutions project. It will expand the Brick Hill Day Program. This would open spaces at our South Portland Clubhouse to accommodate more youth, particularly those in temporary housing at nearby motels. The rest of the funding will supply transportation for unhoused youth, support the houseless youth in temporary living situations at the hotels in South Portland, and enhance the community room at Brick Hill, where the programming occurs.  


Greater Portland Family Promise received $200,000 for its homeless prevention 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.  

According to its application, the South Portland Parks and Rec Department received $75,000 for its before-and-after school care program that serves 150-200 elementary school children. South Portland Economic development department received $625,000 in funding for two projects, including $525,000 for constructing a community-wide broadband network. An added $100,000 will aid in setting up a program to help develop a home-based daycare business.  

The South Portland Fire Department did not receive the funding for its Community Health and Resource Paramedics project, for which it requested $899,994. The fire department’s other project, Healthy First Responders, asked for $162,000. The money would fund a wellness program for the police and fire department members.  

According to City Manager Scott Morelli, the city planned to distribute the remaining $3.4 million in federal pandemic relief funds in the future. Although, a second round may be delayed and could be less than the total remaining.  

“Due to other funding priorities, the second round of (rescue plan) grant funds will only have $970,518 available, instead of $3.4 million,” said Morelli in a letter to the council.  

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