Two-thirds of the 69 rooms used to temporarily shelter unhoused people at the Comfort Inn in Scarborough are vacant or set to be vacant by Jan. 3.

Twenty-three rooms are still occupied at the Route 1 hotel, some of which may remain occupied into February as the residents await court hearings on their legal challenges to the evictions.

“That accounts for about 40 different individuals, eight of whom are children,” Town Manager Tom Hall said on Wednesday in his update on the ongoing situation for the Town Council.

The council was advised earlier this month that because of special circumstances some people may be remaining at the hotel after the Jan. 1 deadline to move out.

Under a transition plan developed by the Scarborough Town Council and owners of the Comfort Inn, clients, placed there by The Opportunity Alliance, were to leave the hotels in three phases with a deadline of Jan. 1 for the final group. Conditions set by councilors include that the hotel provides on-site security and on-site social services, such as meals, mental health services and case management, while people remain sheltered there.

Responding to a question from Councilor Don Hamill, Hall said that because some of the eviction hearings have not been scheduled into mid-January, the hotel may not be fully vacant until the end of February.


The Opportunity Alliance was forced last month to remove many of its on-site staff from hotels sheltering unhoused people in Cumberland County due to a lack of funding, leaving people staying at the Comfort Inn with few services. Some, Hall noted, have case managers through other agencies, but no other non-site services are being provided. The school department has been helping with meals.

In November, 911 calls to the hotel climbed again after a period of decline, with 68 calls with 75 associated offenses. That was the highest number of calls since March, which 85 calls and 132 associated offenses. Police Chief Mark Holmquist said the calls dropped off after March when the council began working with the hotel to stem the volume, which was taxing the town’s emergency services.

For the first half of this month, there have been 15 calls, bringing the total so far this year to 513 emergency calls with 596 offenses, compared to a total of 101 calls in 2021.

At Wednesday’s meeting, councilors said they believe they are doing the best they can in a tough situation.

“The owner made a decision that he wants to go back to running a hotel,” said Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina. “So, we stepped in, and rather than having him just throw everyone on the street all at once. Making this plan is the best of the worst situation.”

The council also backed an application for a $10,000 Cumberland County Community Development Block Grant “to develop local strategies to address the needs of unhoused individuals in Scarborough.”

The grant would be used to assess the number of unhoused people in Scarborough and their needs. The information will be supplied to a stakeholders committee that, among other strategies, could connect the unhoused people with regional resources or develop local policies and programs.

“The intent of that is really to figure out where we fit into this,” Hall said. “What role can we play as a town that is brand new to us … We recognize this is in our community, it’s not going away, we really need to get smarter on how we can help move the needle.”

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