PORTLAND, Maine—Facing an impending humanitarian crisis, Portland Family Shelters Director Mike Guthrie has a simple message to anyone who will listen, “We need help!”
Guthrie, a hands-on, frontline worker in the effort to feed, clothes, and house a continuous flow of foreign nationals arriving in Portland by airplane or bus from the U.S. southern border, told The Epoch Times, “Our family shelter facilities, our warming room, and even area hotel space is at capacity. We have maxed out our community resources.
“The time is coming when I’m going to have to look a dad in the face and tell him and his family that I don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight.”
The Portland Family Shelter is a complex of four rented buildings in various states of renovation located in the heart of downtown.
Some of the structures are gradually being converted into small apartments where up to four families will share a single kitchen and bathroom.
All four buildings are overflowing their present capacity.
“The intake is greater and faster than we can process,” Guthrie said.
To accommodate the stream of new arrivals, the family shelter program has in recent months placed 309 families (1,091 people) in eight hotels located in five neighboring municipalities spread over three counties of southeastern Maine’s prime tourist and vacation region.
Those moves, with their attendant complications and problems, have resulted in some pushback from the local Mainers who fear their prized relaxed lifestyle may never be the same.
And they resent not having a voice in any of it.
“It’s just part of the state government’s plan to bring the slums to the suburbs,” said a Mainer from the resort and tourist community of Kennebunkport, a small town about 28 miles down the Atlantic coast from Portland.
“The United States cannot rescue Africa.”
Coming out of the Kennebunkport post office, long-time Mainers Virginia and Robert shared their opinions on what the locals see as the “invasion” of Maine by immigrants.
Virginia commented, “We have sympathy for the asylum seekers, but resources are over-extended and now it’s going beyond Portland.”
“Eventually, it’s going to impact our quality of life,” Robert said.
By Steven Kovac