The former Great Falls Marketing building at 121 Mill St. in Auburn, seen in January 2023, is being considered for a resource center, which the City Council will discuss Monday. The proposal is to house the Community Development office and several nonprofit organizations, with the possibility of hosting day services or a wintertime warming center for homeless.  Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The city is considering using the long-vacant building at 121 Mill St. to house its Community Development office and several nonprofit organizations, with the possibility of hosting day services or a wintertime warming center for homeless.

The council is set to discuss the potential project at a workshop Monday.

Mayor Jeff Harmon said the idea behind the proposal is to put a range of services all in one place, but emphasized that a full residential shelter is not on the table.

The former Great Falls Marketing building has been involved in previous talks for establishing a temporary warming center during the winter, but has not yet been utilized. The city houses its Community Development and General Assistance offices in rented space at 95 Main St., across from Festival Plaza, and shares the offices with several nonprofits.

Earlier this year, the city announced a partnership with Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services as part of an effort to expand access to community services due to a large demand for General Assistance. At the time, city staff said Auburn offered the Main Street office as “drop-in” space for nonprofits in response to “a significant rise in community need” after the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program ended.

Other organizations working from there include Rumford Group Homes and Community Concepts.


The proposal to use the Mill Street building could also include staff, organizations or volunteers associated with the Pleasant Street Drop-in Center, which has provided a range of services to homeless out of the First Universalist Church.

“The council is looking to have a discussion amongst themselves and with staff, to see if this asset can assist with the city’s response to the needs of the community’s homeless concerns, in collaboration with other community partners,” City Manager Phil Crowell said.

Harmon said if the proposal moves forward, the Mill Street building would simply be housing several staff and organizations that are already doing the work, with funding already in place. The difference, he said, is that it would put services all in the same place, making it easier for the city to do “a better job of coordinating wraparound services.”

At the start of his term in December, Harmon announced the formation of an hoc committee on homelessness, which has been meeting regularly. This spring, the committee agreed to coordinate its efforts with a similar committee in Lewiston, which is looking into establishing a 24-hour public shelter.

Auburn teamed up with Lewiston this past winter to fund an emergency warming center at Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston. Harmon said that with “no near-term solution” heading into this winter, there could be talks on using the Mill Street property for an overnight warming center if the council moves ahead with the larger plan of creating a resource center.

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