LEWISTON — The city’s Housing Committee has called on officials in Lewiston and Auburn to work together toward establishing a permanent overnight shelter.

The committee was set to present its recommendations to the City Council on Tuesday, which states that “a streamlined effort may help move us toward longer-term solutions” to the issue of homelessness in Lewiston-Auburn.

While the two cities recently collaborated to fund a temporary warming center at Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston, the Housing Committee said the cities must do better than holding last-minute discussions after winter has already arrived.

“Last winter and this winter, we saw a warming shelter pulled together at the last minute and well into low temperature season,” the letter to officials said. “While we are deeply appreciative of the staff and (the cities of Lewiston and Auburn), community partners, and people and businesses throughout Lewiston and Auburn who volunteer their time, we can and must do better.”

Initially, the committee called for the Twin Cities to create a joint task force, but amended its recommendation after further talks with Auburn officials.

Officials in Auburn, which recently established its own homelessness committee, said that committee would likely coordinate with Lewiston’s effort rather than join a joint task force.


Mayor Jeff Harmon said he and other Auburn officials are in agreement that “adding another committee would present coordination and communication challenges with our existing committee.”

“We have indicated that our homelessness committee is happy to coordinate with a Lewiston committee to work on mutual shelter and homeless issues,” he said.

In response, the committee said the council should create a “City Council Ad Hoc Committee on Establishing a Homeless Shelter.”

“The overall goal of this committee should be to support the creation of systemic solutions that lead to long-term successful outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in our community,” an April 12 letter from the committee said.

The Housing Committee, which was established to study and provide recommendations to the council on housing issues, said in a previous letter that the lack of housing in Lewiston “is leading to an increasing number of households experiencing homelessness.”

“Additionally, as housing costs rise and wages fail to keep up, we see more people and families unable to afford a safe place to call home,” it states.


Homeless advocates have been pushing for a permanent overnight shelter in Lewiston-Auburn for several years, especially as the issue has worsened, and elected officials have often shied away from longer-term solutions due to funding. However, cities smaller than Lewiston, such as Bangor and Augusta, have opened shelters.

Nancy Craig, director of Calvary’s City Mission program, told the Sun Journal in February that it’s “shameless” that a metropolitan area the size of Lewiston and Auburn does not have a 24-hour homeless shelter. Because the Calvary warming center is not technically a shelter, they are not allowed to provide beds.

During the council discussions to fund the Calvary warming center, several Lewiston councilors criticized the last-minute nature of the project, and signaled that more permanent solutions could be a larger priority moving forward.

The Housing Committee’s recommendation also says the task force should be “assigned specific, time-limited action steps” and lays out a proposed membership makeup.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.