LEWISTON — City officials Friday confirmed they are working to disperse homeless encampments in response to concerns from public or private property owners, but said they are posting signage, giving multiple warnings and trying to connect people to services.

City staff said the city is working with a private property owner to address an encampment between Gendron Place — formerly the Promenade Mall — and Lincoln Street, and recently dispersed an encampment in the Sunnyside Park neighborhood.

Angelynne Amores, Lewiston’s recently hired communications director, said the city is working with the owner of the property near Lincoln Street to find a solution. Police have been on scene to discuss trespassing, she said, and have offered services through the Lewiston Police Department’s substance use counselors and Project Support You, which work to connect people in crisis with needed services.

She also said signs will be posted at the site.

Recently near Sunnyside Park, the city provided notice and gave unhoused individuals “a few days to gather their items,” Amores said.

“Also, we had counselors present to inform them of services they could utilize. As it turned out, most did leave and staff stayed to clean up the area,” she said.


Encampments of unhoused people have been subject to recent enforcement action in both Lewiston and Auburn, leading some advocates and officials to call for alternate solutions that can house more people before winter.

Earlier this week, officials in Auburn announced they are in talks with Lewiston and Androscoggin County government for a 24-unit shelter “village” featuring modular shelters created by Seattle-based company Pallet. The announcement came after Auburn faced questions about its zoning laws that do not allow overnight shelters in the city, following enforcement action that broke up an encampment at the First Universalist Church of Auburn.

Homeless advocates said many of the people simply returned to the woods in Auburn and Lewiston. But, the weather is getting colder.

Casey Knight, one of the co-chairs of a drop-in center at the Auburn church, said many of the people who have been staying at encampments in Lewiston and Auburn have been stopping in. She knows some of the people who have been staying on the Lewiston side.

She said many people are sleeping in tents because there’s nowhere else to go — housing is extremely limited or out of reach. Many also choose to be in encampments with other people for a better sense of safety.

When asked, Amores said the Pallet box winter shelter proposal “is still under evaluation” by Lewiston officials. There has not been a determination on where the “village” would be located, or a timeline for opening. Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said this week that officials have discussed a goal of Jan. 1.


“We continue to seek options that work for all involved,” Amores said.

During a Androscoggin County Commission meeting Wednesday, members appeared receptive to the overall plan.

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said Friday there needs to be a variety of actions taken to address the issue as winter approaches.

“When there are people living in encampments, it is indicative of the need for more housing across a continuum — everything from shelters to recovery residences and supportive housing, to housing Lewiston people can afford,” he said. “As the nights continue to grow colder, these challenges are going to be more stark and apparent. We need a temporary winter shelter for our most vulnerable residents, which would provide a warm place to stay and a place to access resources to help them move forward with their lives.”

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