AUBURN — A warming center at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston will open Tuesday night after Auburn officials amended the city’s portion of funding Monday.

The action by the Auburn City Council was the last step holding back the opening of the warming center funded jointly by Lewiston and Auburn. The proposal had been complicated by concerns over last year’s shelter at the church and an alternative proposal to run it.

The Auburn council unanimously supported $62,500 Monday “to cover no more than 50% of actual third-party expenses paid by the city of Lewiston” toward the center.

Auburn initially approved providing $89,306 toward a proposal from the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine in Lewiston, with Lewiston slated to pay the remaining $98,223 — for a total of $187,529. However, the Lewiston council decided to go with an alternative proposal last week from the nonprofit Kaydenz Kitchen food pantry in Lewiston, which offered a $125,200 budget to operate the warming center.

The Immigrant Resource Center ran last year’s warming center at the church along with Community Concepts, and while it succeeded in keeping people out of the winter cold, the project was met with harsh criticism from several fronts over its impact to the neighborhood.

Kevin Boilard, director of Kaydenz Kitchen, said after Auburn’s vote that the shelter will open at 10 p.m. Tuesday. He said the funding approval was a “nice sense of relief” and that the group can “now be really focused on the goal and really get to work to get this operational, and something that provides a service to community.”


On Friday, as Auburn called a special meeting to amend its funding, the Immigrant Resource Center notified both cities that it was withdrawing its participation in the warming center project.

Fatuma Hussein, executive director of Immigrant Resource Center, told officials in both cities last week that her organization was better prepared to handle the issues this year, but Lewiston officials were swayed by Boilard’s proposal, which argued that last year’s program “created a significant amount of community concerns around how these types of programs operate.”

Auburn Councilor Belinda Gerry voted for the Kaydenz Kitchen proposal even though she preferred the Immigrant Resource Center plan. She said she liked it because it would have opened the Calvary doors earlier, at 6 p.m.

Kaydenz Kitchen will operate from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. until April 9.

“I have to support this or we’re back to square one,” she said. “As much as I do not like this proposal, I’m doing it for the greater good.”

The Kaydenz Kitchen budget includes three full-time staff positions and one police officer present during all hours of operation.


A memorandum of understanding between the city of Lewiston and Kaydenz Kitchen states the organization will “maintain peace, order, and cleanliness on the center premise from 9:45 p.m. to 8:15 a.m.” and it will allow a maximum capacity of 100 guests, or 50 guests per floor of the church.

The agreement also says Kaydenz Kitchen will meet weekly with Lewiston police officials “to plan for and review operational or safety concerns” related to the warming center operation.

Included in the Auburn council’s memo Monday was also a list of “guest expectations” that will be provided to those staying at the warming center. Among the rules is alcohol and drugs are not allowed on the property, but if someone arrives at the shelter under the influence, they may be admitted as long as they “maintain safe and appropriate behaviors.”

“Police presence is to ensure everyone’s safety,” the document states. “As long as safe and appropriate behaviors are maintained, there will be no direct interactions between police and shelter guests.”

“The collaboration between Auburn and Lewiston to establish a temporary warming center this winter will greatly benefit the homeless population in our community,” Auburn Mayor Jeff Harmon said after the meeting.

Reached Monday night, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said, “I’m glad that our two cities could come together to get this done and I hope the warming center can be operational as soon as possible.”

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