Portland Family Shelter Overflow

Capacity of the Family Shelter:

34 Families, 124 Individuals


City pays for up to 3 hotel rooms per night at Maine Motel in South Portland when shelter is at capacity

  • Motel amenities: mini-fridge and microwave
  • Families in the motel are responsible for transportation on the public bus – provided a bus pass
  • Kids are bused to school in Portland
  • Minimal Case Management is done for families while they stay in the motel –connections to doctor and social services

When shelter and motels are full, families sit up in chairs in “warming center” in lobby of the Family Shelter or the General Assistance building.  (update: The Salvation Army opened their gym in July to families who are in the overflow with sleeping pads.

Warming Center usage:

  • On July 12th 6 families (26 individuals) stayed overnight. At least three pregnant women stayed there during June. Pregnant women and children were given mats to sleep on the floor (against regulations) . All others sat up in chairs.
  • On July 11th one family was moved from the Warming Center to the Family Shelter after more than 2.5 weeks of spending the night in the shelter.
    June data not yet available
    4 days in May ~
    19 days in March
    16 days in February
    13 days in January
    4 days in December
    1 day in November

    From January 8 until February 22, the same 3 newly arrived immigrant families (16 people) stayed in the motel in South Portland. Two of the three families were still staying there at the end of February, plus one more family (17 people).

    As of July 13, one family of four has been in motel overflow for 30 days, indicating families at the shelter aren’t getting housed.


Families are being sent to live with other immigrant tenant families – Issues with “doubling up”:

  • Families lose their homelessness status and receive no case management to help secure housing
  • Occupancy limits and rules
  • Capacity – people sleeping on floors and couches
  • Families being split up in order to have space for them
  • One family shouldering the whole responsibility
  • No External support systems

Family Shelter Intakes
(families staying in the family shelter, motels, and warming center):

September 2015 

7 families, 4 out of country – Angola (2), China, Rwanda
October 2015
10 families, 2 out of country – Angola, Rwanda
November 2015
26 families, 9 out of country – Angola, Burundi, DR Congo (3), Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa (2)

December 2015
26 families, 11 out of country –Angola (5), DR Congo (4), Gabon, Romania

January 2016
13 families, 10 out of country –Angola (4), DR Congo (2), Djibouti, Rwanda (2), South Africa
February 2016 
7 families, 3 out of country – DR Congo, Iraq, Nigeria
March 2016
19 families, 3 out of country – Angola, Djibouti, DR Congo
April 2016 
13 families, 4 out of country – Angola, DR Congo (2), Rwanda
May 2016
14 families, 4 out of country – Angola (2), Ivory Coast, Rwanda


According to data collected under the McKinny Vento Act, on April 6, 2016, there were 186 children experiencing homelessness in the Portland Public School System

  • 84 are staying in shelters
  • 19 in motel rooms,
  • 83 are doubling up in the homes of friends—typically in places where there is no space for them.

Information comes from meetings and phone calls with:
Jeff Tardif, Portland Family Shelter Director
David McLean, General Assistance Director for the City of Portland

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