As funding runs out for General Assistance vouchers, asylum seekers occupying about 30 rooms of the Sanford Inn will soon have to leave the motel without knowing where they will head next for shelter, according to reporting from WGME.
“In May, families and individuals suddenly arrived in the York County community. City leaders and other groups suddenly had to find the asylum seekers a place to stay, which included motels.”
“‘The lodging help is the big issue for these people right now,’ Sanford Inn Owner and Manager Manu Patel said.”
“Patel says all sorts of people have come to his hotel offering food, clothing and more to the asylum seekers living there. ‘I don’t think anybody can afford that kind of money, you know, for that many people,’ Patel said.”
General Assistance funds are set to run out in mid-June, and there will be a gap before more funds become available in July, according to a memo from Sanford City Manager Steven Buck.
“The city manager’s memo says, ‘Motels have never been a good solution to homelessness because of the cost and the lack of availability during the tourist season.'”
Executive Assistant to the City Manager Lorisa Ricketts said that the city is working with York County Community action to identify “better, more cost-effective housing than the current hotel accommodations.
The wave of asylum seekers hit Sanford after two unnamed women visited the Portland Expo, where hundreds of migrant families are currently staying in an emergency shelter, and falsely informed some of those families that they would receive better benefits and accommodations in Sanford.
A source in Sanford has said that those women’s names have been referred to the Sanford Police Department, but no charges have been announced.
The source said at least some of the initial families that arrived in Sanford came directly from the Portland International Jetport, though it’s unclear who paid for and arranged those flights.
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to inquiries asking whether it was involved in those flights.
The Maine Wire has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking public records that might show whether the federal government was involved in relocation migrants to Maine.