Days Inn and Comfort Inn in South Portland will move their remaining shelter residents to the Howard Johnson on Main Street following City Council approval Tuesday.

The hotels’ owner, NewGen Hospitality, has until June 30 to cease shelter operations at Howard Johnson and April 30 for the Days Inn and Comfort Inn.

The Days Inn on Maine Mall Road is currently sheltering 64 people, while the Comfort Inn, also on Maine Mall Road, has just one person, City Manager Scott Morelli said. At the peak of the pandemic, the two hotels were accommodating a total of 290 asylum seekers and domestic unhoused people.

Christopher Valentim Fonseca Andre, 3, plays last year outside of Howard Johnson in South Portland, where he was staying with his family from Angola. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

“We have been working with officials from Maine Housing, Preble Street, Prosperity Maine, (Maine Immigrant Rights Center), and others to do our best that, come June 30, folks will have a place to stay other than our hotels,” Morelli said Tuesday. “It is certainly daunting work.”

The council unanimously agreed Tuesday to allow the transfer with Mayor Kate Lewis absent.

Councilor Richard Matthews said it was a “struggle” to vote in favor of the  transfer of the sheltered residents to Howard Johnson.


The transfer allows NewGen to start earlier on its plans to remodel and reopen the Comfort Inn and Days Inn as lodging establishments. Matthews said it was as if the owner was asking the council to “do him a favor when we’ve been doing him a favor for the last three years.”

“These motels and hotels have made millions, millions and millions of dollars off of us over the last three years, and it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Matthews said. “They come across as they’re the heroes, and I call bogus BS.”

Matthews said he “will not be part of any extension after June 30.”

“We did what we could in South Portland for the past three years,” Councilor Deqa Dhalac said. “I’m OK where I’m at right now.”

Emergency service calls to the hotels and motels that spiked when they began operating as temporary shelters in 2020 have plummeted in 2023 and are now nearly at pre-pandemic levels, Morelli said Tuesday. Calls to the Comfort Inn peaked at 69.6 emergency services calls per month in 2021 compared to an average of 2.6 per month pre-pandemic, and calls to the Days Inn peaked at 38.3 per month in 2021 from a 2017-19 average of 6.6 calls per month.

This story was updated April 26 to correct the deadline for Days Inn and Comfort Inn to cease shelter operations. 

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