Reimbursements for Asylum Seeker Services

The City of Portland launched an application process in late 2019 for community partners to request reimbursement for expenses they incurred as a result of the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers this past summer. The City of Portland operated an emergency shelter at the Portland Expo between June 9 and August 15, processing intake for almost 450 people. During that time, the City was able to house more than 200 of those people with additional families being placed in host homes and others staying at the City’s Family Shelter until housing units could be found and arranged. The Expo shelter was the first time the City had run a 24/7 emergency family shelter operation. Subsequently to the Expo center shelter closure the City has received hundreds of additional asylum seekers at our City facilities. 
Donations received from the public helped to offset the approximately $3.3M in unplanned expenditures the City incurred to support housing/shelter/basic necessities of asylum seekers in FY20.  In addition to this expense the City distributed an additional $310k to community partners to reimburse partners for documented primary/secondary expenditures they incurred.  Offsetting that total $3.6M in expenditures was $1.9M of reimbursement from the State of Maine (70% share of General Assistance expenses for asylum seekers) and $977k in private donations received to support the shelter/housing/basic necessities for asylum seekers.  As a result there was a net cost to local Portland property taxpayers of approximately $728k from the summer 2019 influx. 
The City has fully reimbursed all community partners who applied for reimbursement of documented primary and secondary expenditures.  Although no remaining funding is available for community partners anyone interested in future funding opportunities can email

Key Documents

Final Report of Donations Received and Aid Provided During the 2019 Asylum Seeker Influx and Subsequent Expo Emergency Operations Center

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Who is Eligible for Reimbursement?
Nonprofit organizations who assisted the City of Portland at the Expo Center during the influx of asylum seekers from mid-June 2019 through mid-September 2019 are eligible to submit an application for reimbursement. 

The following organizations are not eligible to receive funds:
  • Organizations that have only passed down funds or equipment to other local entities that provided direct services
  • Agencies that only provided charitable donations
  • Organizations that only provided services outside the influx period
2.  What Types of Expenditures are Eligible for Reimbursement?
Eligible expenditures are divided into two categories. Primary (food and shelter) and Secondary (other). The complete list of eligible expenditures is listed below and please note - if your organization has previously been reimbursed for specific expenditures by any local, State or Federal entity those expenditures are ineligible for a second reimbursement.  


Provide the total number of migrants served and total number of meals served


  • Basic First Aid/ Over-The-Counter Medication (e.g. Tylenol, Advil, etc.) 
  • Hygiene items (baby wipes, diapers, toiletries, undergarments, etc.) 
  • Clothing 
  • Cots and Beds 
  • Linens (sheets, towels, wash cloths, etc.) 
  • Shelter Utilities (electricity, gas, water) 
  • Maintenance & Housekeeping (repair and cleaning supplies) 
  • Contracted Services (security, laundry, trash pickup) 
  • Local Transportation (to and from shelter) (including contracted and/or vehicle rental, gas, insurance, drivers) 
  • Equipment Purchased/Rented (food prep – stove, microwave, etc.)

  • Long-Distance Transportation (bus tickets, airline tickets, and train tickets for migrants)
  • Health/Medical 
  • Mental Health Services
  • Legal Aid 
  • Furniture and Household Items for Asylum Seeker Housing
  • Translation Services 
3.  When is the Application Deadline and When Will Funding Be Awarded?
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and entities are encouraged to submit initial applications by December 31, 2019. The first round of approved funding will be awarded in January 2019.