LEWISTON — A report from the ad hoc shelter committee says Lewiston-Auburn needs more than 180 new shelter beds in order to address the extent of the homelessness problem in the area.

The release of the report coincides with a city effort to draft an ordinance regulating shelters, with officials looking to adopt the ordinance ahead of the expiration of a moratorium on shelters this fall.

The 46-page report was compiled by the committee over four months and lays out options and recommendations for officials to consider.

Among its recommendations are to reestablish a temporary shelter for the upcoming winter like the former emergency shelter at the Ramada Hotel on Pleasant Street, as well as a 24-hour shelter with broader accessibility for the general public compared to the city’s shelters.

Craig Saddlemire, co-chairman of the committee, told the council Tuesday that while there are multiple contributing causes of homelessness, their research found that the primary two are insufficient income and an affordable housing shortage.

The report states that roughly 1,000 people experienced homelessness in Lewiston over the past 12 months, and that the city’s 83 existing shelter beds are full 88% of the year, on average.


It delves into the city’s current shelters and who they are serving, and looked at gaps in services that should be addressed. It found that future shelters need “wrap around” services that can help better transition people to stable housing.

The need for 187 additional shelter beds is based on the state’s Point In Time figures from this past winter and the population of Androscoggin County.

Saddlemire said he expected there to be a lot more discussion on how to approach the need, but said the number is important to gauge “how many people are vulnerable on a given night,” especially in the winter.

Following the workshop, Councilor Rick Lachapelle said he was “a little perplexed” at the number presented, stating that it should be based on Lewiston alone and not the county.

The report encourages officials in Lewiston and Auburn to work collaboratively on the issue.

In response to concerns from the public about new shelters, the committee also recommended that any new shelter enact a so-called “Good Neighbor” policy, which stipulates shelter guests “are held accountable for their behavior within a two-block radius of the facility.”


A section of the report about emergency shelters states that shelters are just one piece of a multifaceted “continuum of care,” with a range of services designed to prevent homelessness, or make it as brief as possible. Day shelters, emergency shelters and transitional housing are all listed as “crisis response.”

Officials sought a moratorium this spring in response to a proposal for a 24-hour shelter and resource center intended to help transition people out of homelessness.

The moratorium expires Sept. 25, and the council is slated to take up the issue again next month.

City Administrator Heather Hunter said the council, city staff and the committee will have to narrow down and “bring into alignment” recommendations into a new ordinance based on feedback.

The reaction from the City Council was generally positive, with several councilors commenting on the comprehensive data and information included.

Many said the report should help the city move forward quickly in order to get new programs in place before the winter.


Councilor Linda Scott said she recently walked around Kennedy Park and the downtown area, and said the problem is increasingly visible.

“It’s everywhere right now,” she said.

David Hediger, director of Planning and Code Enforcement, who also served on the shelter committee, presented a draft ordinance for officials to consider. He said he looked at ordinances from Portland, Brunswick, and Waterville.

He said there are “some big open-ended questions,” but believes the committee and councilors are more closely aligned than they believe.

One sticking point could be zoning, and whether the city should expand where shelters are allowed. They are only allowed in two zones.

The issue is scheduled for a workshop on Aug. 16.

Report and Recommendations to City Council on Homeless Shelters in Lewiston by sunjournal on Scribd

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