SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Two hotels in Maine will stop hosting hundreds of people experiencing homelessness because of complaints from neighboring businesses.
The Days Inn and Comfort Inn near the Maine Mall in South Portland will not renew its contract with MaineHousing to provide emergency shelter when it expires May 31, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Suresh Gali, head of New Gen Hospitality Management that operates the hotels, made the announcement at a meeting Friday, according to the newspaper.
City officials called the virtual forum in order to air out public safety concerns around four hotels that have been providing emergency homeless shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.
Business owners around the mall said customers and employees are fearful because they’ve had to deal with intoxicated and mentally unstable people harassing them, using drugs in public bathrooms and defecating outdoors, the Herald reports.
City officials said the loss of the two hotels for emergency housing will only exacerbate the challenge of addressing homelessness in the city, which they say was growing long before the pandemic.
They said they’re working with state officials to identify new emergency shelter space for the roughly 290 individuals currently being sheltered at the two hotels.