LEWISTON — A proposal to use state funding to open a 25-bed emergency shelter at 104 Park St. is likely dead after MaineHousing said the project will not meet its deadline for approving the funds.

Scott Thistle, a MaineHousing spokesman, confirmed Friday that the state organization needs “a done deal” by Monday, June 12. The Lewiston City Council was originally slated to take up the shelter license Tuesday, June 6, but postponed the vote to June 20 after saying the application from Lewiston Housing was “incomplete.”

The Planning Board approved a permit for the shelter in late April, but the city’s shelter ordinance approved last year requires shelters to also receive a license approved by the City Council.

The proposed shelter was a collaboration between Lewiston Housing, Community Concepts and the Immigrant Resource Center, which planned to operate using a $3.7 million grant from Maine Housing, part of legislation approved last year that provided funding for homeless shelters. Lewiston Housing owns the former Sun Journal building at 104 Park St., where the shelter was planned to be a two-year temporary service. The plan was to begin with 25 beds and eventually feature 37.

Thistle said the grant funding must be committed by June 30, and without an approved project by June 12, the state needs time to reallocate the funding. He said the original agreement was May 31, but then was stretched to June 6. After it was delayed further, the grant application was pulled, he said.

A council memo this week said the application “is still being finalized regarding this item and is tentatively scheduled to be presented to the City Council at the June 20 meeting.”


It’s unclear what deadlines Lewiston Housing and city officials were working toward. Officials from Lewiston Housing, as well as Lewiston city administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Thistle said if the shelter team comes back with a different location or proposal that could be approved locally by Monday, MaineHousing would be “willing to reissue the grant.”

But, he said, MaineHousing is not involved in any negotiations between the city and the shelter partners.

“MaineHousing agrees that Lewiston should be part of the solution (to homelessness) and have a successful project,” he said.

When reached Friday, Mayor Carl Sheline said, “This is disheartening news and I’m looking forward to learning more about what happened. We have failed to address homelessness in Lewiston in any meaningful way and this shelter proposal by community partners represents a step in the right direction.”

Leading up to the Planning Board hearing in April, city officials expressed “shock and disappointment” regarding the proposed shelter, and discussed ways to “take the wind out of” the project.

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