South Portland scrutinizes hotels housing homeless individuals

SOUTH PORTLAND — Accommodations housing the homeless and households will seem once more earlier than Metropolis Council on Tuesday to handle ongoing considerations about mounting calls to police and different emergency providers.

The highlight is on a number of hundred homeless individuals and asylum seekers staying in native lodges beneath contracts with the Maine State Housing Authority, Metropolis Supervisor Scott Morelli mentioned. Town is responding to complaints from residents and enterprise homeowners at a time when reasonably priced housing is scarce, employees is tight and prices are rising.

The Council examines the working licenses which were renewed in April for Consolation Inn, Days Inn and Howard Johnson owned by New Gen Hospitality Administration in South Portland. Although public hearings are deliberate for the lodges to think about revoking their licenses, group officers will as an alternative suggest that the council impose sure circumstances to curb service requests, Morelli mentioned Friday.

New to the controversy is the Casco Bay Resort, a just lately renovated property at 80 John Roberts Highway close to the Maine Mall. Owned by Northeast Group Holdings, a Cape Elizabeth-based restricted firm, it has taken on “home homeless purchasers” referred by social providers, Morelli mentioned.

Metropolis officers are working with lodge homeowners to develop phrases and insurance policies to higher assist lodge visitors, he mentioned.

“Town believes it could actually cut back name quantity and eradicate or cut back the kinds of calls which are most damaging to the well being and security of visitors and the general public, each on the lodges and within the surrounding companies and neighborhoods,” mentioned Morelli in a discover on town’s web site.

The advisable phrases shall be introduced Tuesday night time, Morelli mentioned. Circumstances imposed in April included the supply of steady and visual onsite safety and an onsite Monday by means of Friday service coordinator to help with housing, medical care, meals, transportation and different wants.

At a group assembly in February New Gen owner Suresh Gali promised stop operations of the Consolation and Days Inns as emergency shelters by means of the tip of Could in response to public security considerations. Native residents and enterprise homeowners had described quite a lot of drunken and unlawful behaviors by homeless individuals in want, together with harassment, theft, drug dealing and assaults.

Since then, Gali has agreed continue to provide emergency shelters indefinitely on the Consolation Inn and Days Inn pending state and native officers but to search out various housing. About 280 individuals shall be accommodated within the two lodges, Morelli mentioned.

Metropolis officers mentioned the Consolation Inn at 90 Maine Mall Highway generated 277 calls to police, hearth and ambulance providers within the first half of 2022, in comparison with a mean of 31 calls a yr in 2017-2019 earlier than it started internet hosting the homeless throughout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Days Inn at 461 Maine Mall Highway generated 150 emergency calls from January by means of June this yr, in comparison with a mean of 79 emergency calls per yr in 2017-2019.

Town is publicizing the general public listening to on social media, which is considerably uncommon for a single council agenda merchandise. The assembly begins at 6:30 p.m. within the Council Chamber and on Zoom.

“There’s lots of public curiosity on this challenge,” Morelli mentioned. “What is occurring now may be very completely different from what individuals have been instructed on the listening to in April. We wish to make sure that individuals know and perceive what is going on on.”

Not within the metropolis’s crosshairs is the High quality Inn & Suites at 738 Primary St., operated by New England Hospitality, a New Hampshire-based lodge group. High quality Inn is dwelling to households and people looking for asylum, and emergency calls have fallen sharply due to lodge administration, metropolis officers mentioned. The council’s agenda pack for Tuesday’s assembly didn’t embrace emergency name knowledge from High quality Inn.

Howard Johnson at 675 Primary St. additionally homes principally asylum seekers, however 911 calls stay excessive, metropolis officers mentioned. From January to June this yr, 108 calls have been generated, in comparison with a mean of 69 calls per yr in 2017-2019.

Gali, head of New Gen, didn’t reply to a request for an interview.

High quality Inn and Howard Johnson have hosted roughly 198 households.

The variety of homeless individuals being housed on the Casco Bay Resort is unclear. The lodge generated 46 emergency calls from January to July this yr, in comparison with a mean of 39 emergency calls in 2017-2019. The lodge’s homeowners and managers didn’t reply to requests to debate the problems.

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