LEWISTON — An emergency wellness shelter will open Wednesday afternoon at the Lewiston Armory.

The shelter, operated by the nonprofit Community Concepts, is modeled after a similar effort at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, aimed at providing emergency shelter in a setting that allows people to follow social distancing protocols.
According to a Community Concepts news release Tuesday, the shelter will begin allowing eligible adults to enter at 3 p.m.

When announcing the shelter last week, officials said the spread of COVID-19 among the local homeless population is the key concern, especially because Lewiston’s shelters do not provide adequate space for social distancing.

Community Concepts will manage the day-to-day operations, with funding coming from MaineHousing. The 24-hour shelter will provide three meals a day, as well as restroom and laundry services.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, City Administrator Ed Barrett said he expects the shelter to be “pretty full, pretty quickly.”

He said over the past week, he’s “been very impressed” with how the community has stepped forward to assist. There have been donations from local businesses of supplies, furniture and other items.

“It was a lot more complicated than we originally anticipated,” Barrett said.

Mayor Mark Cayer said Bates College has stepped up to provide meals.

Lewiston Fire Chief Brian Stockdale and Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts, are expected to speak during a news conference at the Armory at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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