Immigrants Given Two Years of Free Rent

Immigrants Given Two Years of Free Rent

( – Maine state authorities are taking a novel approach to migrant resettlement in the coastal town of Brunswick. Stepping away from traditional shelters and hotels, the state has budgeted nearly $3.5 million to cover two years of rent for 60 migrant families. This initiative, part of a broader $55 million Emergency Housing Relief Fund, marks a significant shift in refugee support and integration efforts.

Dan Brennan, Executive Director of the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA), is spearheading the program. According to him, thousands of individuals are looking to find homes in Maine, and they’re “doing everything we can to help that situation.”

The housing program complements another $100,000 grant from Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services (MEIRS) offered to migrants in Lewiston, South Portland, and Brunswick. This funding provides invaluable assistance in navigating the asylum application process and securing work permits, a vital step towards self-sufficiency.

The Brunswick apartments serve as temporary havens for families awaiting work authorization. The Joint Select Committee on Housing report emphasizes community-building, fostering “long-term stability with the help of a bridging case manager/coach.” This supportive structure assists family members in setting individual goals and working together towards achieving them.

Construction is underway, with 24 planned 60 units across five buildings already completed. For asylum seekers like Esther, a Nigerian woman quoted by WCSH, these apartments represent a welcome change from the constraints of shelters and hotels. “There are rules and regulations” in those environments, she said. She also noted that they used to share restrooms and kitchens.

Director Deb Crocker of Brunswick Human Services recognizes the prolonged uncertainty many migrants have faced, with some residing in shelters or hotels for over a year. Nicole Evans, Executive Director of the United Way of Mid Coast Maine, further underscores the community’s commitment to inclusivity. The organization plans to launch a bus program specifically for the needs of the migrant residents, facilitating access to everyday necessities like groceries and medical appointments.

Maine’s initiative comes amidst an ongoing surge in migration at the southern border under President Biden. CBP statistics reveal 302,000 encounters in December, highlighting the growing need for innovative solutions.

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