March 01, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representative Chellie Pingree, and Maine Governor Janet Mills welcomed the announcement that the Biden Administration is extending federal cost share measures to July 1, 2022, amid the ongoing public health emergency. Currently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a 100 percent federal cost share for eligible COVID-19 emergency response measures to help reimburse the City of Portland for providing non-congregate housing for vulnerable communities, including asylum seekers; this emergency measure was set to expire on April 1, 2022. The extension follows a push from members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Janet Mills, who wrote to President Joe Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell urging an extension.
“Maine communities are continuing to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and prematurely ending emergency aid would only stunt our recovery. We welcome the Biden Administration’s decision to extend this crucial federal support for our cities and our vulnerable populations,” Collins, King, Pingree, and Mills said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “We will continue to advocate for additional opportunities to help our communities safely recover from the pandemic without taking on a significant and potentially damaging financial burden.”
In January 2021, President Biden authorized FEMA to increase the federal cost share from 75 to 100 percent as states continued to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. This cost share was then extended through April 1, 2022.
The City of Portland is providing shelter for about 1,150 people per night in two shelters and 10 hotels across five municipalities. The City has spent $3.6 million in hotel costs since December—70 percent of those costs are reimbursed by the state, and the remaining 30 percent is reimbursed by FEMA. Under this structure, there is no increased cost to Portland taxpayers. Without FEMA’s 30 percent reimbursement, the City of Portland could face emergency housing costs up to $9 million, triggering a possible 4.8 percent tax hike for Portland residents.