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City of Westbrook, Maine Michael J. Sanphy 2 York Street Mayor ‘Westbrook, Maine 04092 msanphy@westbrook.me Phone: (207)591-8110 Fax: (866)405-0776 Jerre R. Bryant City Administrator ibryant@westbrook.me.us To: Mayor Michael J. Sanphy and the Westbrook City Council From: Jerre R. Bryant, City Administrator Re: Informational Updates Regarding Asylum Seekers Arriving in Portland, Maine Date: June 17, 2019 ‘The City of Westbrook provides economic support for eligible families and indiyiduals who are unable to meet their basic necessities such as housing, utilities and food, as provided under State Statute and local ordinances governing the General Assistance program. Recent immigration activity has greatly increased this City’s commitment to this program. The current year budget for assistance totals $491,750 with 78% of that amount being provided to ‘new Americans’ who have recently come to the United States and have chosen Westbrook as their new home. Over 15% of the students attending Westbrook public schools are enrolled classes to learn the English language. I offer these statistics to clarify the assertion that Westbrook does nothing for immigrants or people seeking asylum in the United States. Recently, over 250 individuals that legally entered the United States from Mexico into Texas have been transported to the City of Portland, Maine, most in need of emergency housing and other support services. ‘These individuals who have indicated they are seeking asylum in the U.S. passed through their port of entry without being classified by U.S. Immigration officials as Asylum Seekers and therefore are not cligible for either Federal or State assistance programs. This places 100% of the financial responsibility for their basic support and assistance at the local level. In speaking with Mayor Ethan Strimling earlier today, I asked him to specify the type of help the City of Portland was seeking on this matter. While he acknowledged that the city would never turn down a cash contribution, he indicated that their top priority at this point was finding permanent housing for those currently residing in the emergency shelter at the Portland Exposition Building. He indicated that last ight a total of 207 individuals stayed at that shelter. His request is for the City of Westbrook to work with Portland General Assistance to help locate permanent housing opportunities in Westbrook. He further requests that the City of Westbrook agree to cover the full 100% cost of assistance provided to these families should the state decline to agree to make them eligible for General Assistance under the State’s GA regulations. That question is currently being discussed with the Governor Mills. It is difficult to estimate the potential cost of this request as we do not know the makeup of family sizes ‘within this population nor do we know the duration of time that individual clients would spend using General Assistance before they could be transitioned into the workforce and become economically more self-sufficient. There is also the uncertainty of the State qualifying this group of Asylum Seekers as GA eligible and picking up 70% of the City's GA expenses. To develop estimated annual costs for Westbrook, let us assume that 100 individuals find permanent housing in Westbrook, with an average family size of 4 people. Based on 2 maximum monthly allowance for a family of 4 of $1,986, the potential annual cost for 25 families would be $595,800. If this amount was reimbursed by the State at the GA rate of 70%, the net local annual expense would be $178,740, Under any circumstance, a portion of these individuals will settle in Westbrook. Currently, they are ineligible for General Assistance so, unless the State changes its eligibility process, the City of Westbrook ‘would not be obligated to provide General Assistance. If the State rules change, the City of Westbrook ‘would be obligated to fund 30% of any General Assistance benefits provided (City payment up front with 70% reimbursement from the State).