The Portland City Council voted Tuesday night to restore funding for social services it previously intended to cut.
Prior to the vote, demonstrators voiced opposition to a budget some said would undermine city’s reputation as compassionate and inclusive.
“Specifically we’re talking about maintaining funding for an emergency shelter for anyone who needs it. We’re talking about maintaining the Portland Community Support Fund, which provides financial assistance to asylum seekers when they are not eligible for general assistance. We’re talking about fully funding a school budget for the children of the city. And we’re talking about maintaining the fire department at adequate levels to keep us all safe,” Preble Street Advocacy Director Heather Zimmerman said.
Some called for the city to address a controversial proposal to build a new city shelter. One proposed location is on the peninsula, another in Riverside.
Yannick Bizinana said he has used the city’s Oxford Street Shelter in the past, but no longer needs it. He said moving the shelter out of the city center is a bad idea.
“I was looking for where services were, and if they were elsewhere it would have been harder to access those services,” he said.
The council approved a budget of more than $200 million, including $45,000 for overnight emergency shelter services and $50,000 for the Portland Community Support Fund.
The council did not elect to fund the Engine 1 fire truck, which will be decommissioned. The vote on the shelter location was postponed.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.