One of the completed apartment buildings in Brunswick Landing for asylum-seeking families. Courtesy of Developers Collaborative

Asylum-seeking families on Thursday started moving into a new housing development built specifically for them in Brunswick Landing.

A group of 23 families began settling into two 12-unit buildings that have been completed so far. The other three 12-unit buildings in the development are expected to be completed next month.

Town officials and nonprofit groups have organized a massive volunteer effort to assist the families. A town-run GoFundMe campaign has raised about $71,000 and counting for apartment furnishings, while the United Way of Mid Coast Maine has organized more than 100 volunteers who will help the families with everything from English tutoring to child care to helping them navigate the Brunswick Link bus system, which is free for the next year thanks to donations from Mid Coast Hospital, the United Way of Mid Coast Maine and the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine.

“The families are set up for success,” said Fatuma Hussein, executive director of the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. “They have the right footing and foundation.”

Portland-based Developers Collaborative is building the $13 million development. MaineHousing provided an $8 million loan package, while the Brunswick-based Genesis Community Loan Fund is providing a $4 million loan. MaineHousing is covering the families’ rents for two years.

Hussein said adults have been applying for work permits and job-training programs, while students are preparing to attend Brunswick schools, which hired more staff to accommodate the influx of students. Most of the 23 families are from Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have one or two children. They have been staying in shelters or hotels for the past several months.


“This is the first time they’ll be settled, and it’s going to take some to get used to the area,” said Deb Crocker, the Brunswick’s director of human services.

She said she has been heartened by the outpouring of support for the families.

“The community has stepped forward,” she said. “I get multiple calls a day asking, ‘What can I do?’ ”

Crocker said one big need is securing attorneys who can help the families navigate the complex asylum process, which can take several years.

The United Way of Mid Coast Maine is organizing volunteers, who can sign up through VolunteerME. The organization is collecting winter clothing, among other items, for the families.

“Every little bit helps,” said Nicole Evans, the group’s executive director. “It’s going to take our entire community.

“We want to make sure everyone gets the help they need.”

The rest of the families are expected to move in next month. More than 250 families applied for the development’s 60 units.

Comments are not available on this story.