The Falmouth Town Council voted 6-1 Monday to contribute $25,000 from the town’s capital reserve fund to support work toward transitional housing for asylum seekers.

The donation will go to the Safe in Maine fund, created by the Greater Portland Council of Governments and partnering organizations, to get a housing project off the ground. GPCOG has said the fund will be used to “catalyze and support” the future project.

“This is a real humanitarian need,” Councilor Pete LaFond said in support of the town contributing to the regional effort.

Councilor Jay Trickett, who voted against the contribution, said he was concerned about how the housing crisis is being addressed in Maine.

Staff and volunteers load the belongings of asylum seekers into a U-Haul last month at the Portland Expo. The asylum seekers who had been staying at the Expo were moved to hotels in Freeport and Lewiston. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

“I struggle with the idea that a coalition of town governments like ours is the right way to solve this problem,” Trickett said.

While the housing crisis is a humanitarian issue that affects the whole country, including Maine, he said, he would prefer to wait to donate until Safe in Maine has a specific housing plan in place.


Falmouth Woods Association member Jack Uminski told councilors at the meeting that he doesn’t understand why it’s Falmouth’s job to help Portland out of a situation “they’ve created.”

“I have every sympathy for immigrants, but this is not something the town should be doing,” Uminski said.

Between July 2019 and June 2022, the number of asylum seekers in the Greater Portland area rose from 240 to 1,378, according to Belinda Ray, director of strategic partnerships at GPCOG. More than 1,600 asylum seekers have arrived in Portland since Jan. 1. The Portland Expo, which housed 300 of them starting in April, ended its shelter operation last month and transferred about 160 people from 60 families to hotels in Freeport and Lewiston.

“The idea with Safe in Maine is to build transitional housing, which gives people a place to land when they arrive and a place where they can connect with services and get all of those things that they need to begin navigating the Maine community and economy and workforce,” Ray told The Forecaster in a previous interview. “Then they can move to permanent housing and permanent jobs.”

Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough have all made $50,000 donations to Safe in Maine, while Yarmouth has committed to a $20,000 donation. The Falmouth council had considered a $50,000 donation initially.

Because the $25,000 to be contributed to the fund will come out of the reserve fund, it will have no impact on taxpayers, according to Town Manager Nathan Poore.

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