Renderings of Tedford Housing’s proposed new facility in Brunswick. Courtesy of Tedford Housing

The Brunswick planning board will vote Tuesday on whether to give Tedford Housing final approval to build an emergency homeless shelter off Thomas Point Road in the Cook’s Corner area.

As proposed, the 17,568-square-foot facility would increase Tedford’s adult emergency housing capacity from 16 to 24 beds and have space to accommodate up to 10 families, for a total of 64 beds.

In September, the board voted unanimously to give preliminary approval for the building plans. At that meeting, the proposal was praised by supporters, but also faced some opposition from locals concerned with the location.

According to Tedford Housing Executive Director Rota Knott, the nonprofit has been looking to create a new shelter since 2013. Until recently, zoning issues stood in the way.

In 2019, the town council approved two zoning ordinances regulating where homeless shelters could be located and how they would be allowed to operate in Brunswick, finally allowing Tedford to resume expansion plans it had been forced to shelve a year prior.

The current two emergency housing facilities that Tedford operates in Brunswick require “constant and costly maintenance,” Knott said, and due to site restrictions, zoning regulations and the estimated cost, renovating or expanding the current facilities is not an option.

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“Our existing aging buildings no longer meet our needs, something that was magnified by the pandemic as we had to reduce our capacity at the adult shelter to accommodate social distancing,” Knott said in an email Monday.

“Having a single new facility with all of our guests and staff in one place will allow us to more quickly assess guest needs and connect them to permanent housing and supportive services.”

The building proposal also includes meeting, office and storage space.

Cook’s Corner is a predominantly commercial area, populated largely by strip malls and chain stores. Tedford plans to provide transportation through a van as well as taxi and bus fare. Brunswick’s public transportation also has a stop at Walmart.

In the 2021 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, Tedford Housing turned away 284 adults and 74 families due to capacity shortages, The Times Record reported in December. In total, the organization served 38 individuals in the adult shelter and 15 families, made up of 48 family members, in the family shelter.

The average length of stay at the adult shelter was 74 days and the average length of stay at the family shelter was 124 days.

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2020 annual homeless assessment report states that, on a single night in January of 2020, 2,097 Maine people were homeless, 141 of which were unsheltered.

This translates to 15.6 out of every 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Maine on that day.

There are 42 emergency shelters listed by The Maine State Housing Authority, nine of which are in Cumberland County.

The planning board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will include a public hearing.

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