MaineHousing is preparing to spend $21 million to provide overnight warming shelters this winter and other long-term homeless shelter solutions across the state.

The money comes through L.D. 3, a $473 million emergency energy relief bill passed this month by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Janet Mills that’s best known for its promise to send $450 heating assistance checks to most taxpayers.

Senior Housing Adviser Greg Payne Derek Davis, file/Staff Photographer

It will help provide emergency shelter to people at risk of becoming unhoused as the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program comes to an end, and support other more permanent solutions across Maine, said Greg Payne, Mills’ senior housing policy adviser.

“These funds will continue to support people now residing in hotels, as well as enable more communities to stand up emergency shelters and other solutions to help support Maine people at risk of homelessness during the winter months,” Payne said.

MaineHousing issued requests for proposals Friday, which it will then sift through to distribute the funding.

Proposals for overnight warming shelters must be submitted by Feb. 3 and start operating as soon as possible through April 30, according to the proposal request. The shelters are expected to accommodate individuals and families, including people with disabilities. That could include continued funding for people to stay at hotels.


“We need to get people through this winter and then develop additional permanent emergency shelter solutions for the future,” said MaineHousing spokesman Scott Thistle.

The overnight shelters set up this winter will be expected to provide nighttime and possibly daytime spaces with staffing “adequate to the space/number of people served,” the request states. They also will coordinate with area service providers to help shelter guests obtain permanent housing.

One overnight warming center that has already received funding was opened on Dec. 23 by Healthy Acadia in its INSPIRE Recovery Center in Ellsworth, Thistle said. It welcomes people from Hancock and Washington counties from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.; provides an evening meal and snacks; and has drawn as many as seven people each night. In addition to funding from MaineHousing, it is supported by the Witham Family Hotels Charitable Fund, Maine Community Foundation and many individual donors.

Proposals for long-term solutions must be submitted by Feb. 24, implemented by May 1 and be ready to welcome shelter guests by next winter.

Those should provide permanent supportive housing, shelter beds or other opportunities that will continually offer warm, safe and dry accommodations, the proposal request states.

How many proposals will be submitted and where they will be located is difficult to predict, Thistle said.

“It is designed to create new shelter and supportive housing resources in areas of Maine where there currently are none or not enough,” he said.

The funding is open to nonprofits with experience developing affordable housing or serving the homeless community, including social service agencies, homeless service providers, affordable housing developers and the faith community, the proposal request states.

“This funding could go to brand new initiatives or to fund initiatives that need additional funding to continue,” Thistle said.

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