State spending on asylum seekers is a topic of discussion in Augusta

 Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)

The topic of housing has received a great deal of attention since the cost of living began increasing rapidly in January of 2021. Many people are now unable to find an affordable rent, let alone purchase a home. The problem is no longer limited to Portland or coastal tourist destinations. It is a statewide problem.

This past week legislative Republicans finally received information on housing fund expenditures after repeated request for information on how taxpayer money is being spent to address the growing homelessness crisis in Maine. The Maine State Housing Authority provided an accounting for just one fund, the Emergency Housing Relief Fund. What we uncovered is shocking. 

• Of that $55 million dollar fund, $35 million (63%) was spend on housing approximately 2,200 asylum seekers.

• The Transitional housing portion of the fund spent $56,000 per unit.

• $1.2 million in Maine taxpayer dollars was spent on legal assistance for federal asylum claims.

• $13.9 million dollars went to just one hotel providing temporary housing for 80 families

• Money has gone to building new, rent-free luxury apartments in Brunswick for asylum seekers.

I am deeply troubled by these revelations. The Mills administration continues to promote Maine as a destination state for people with no means of support or ability to work under federal law.

Those are just costs for housing, not all the other human services required to support people that come to Maine and are being prioritized over homeless Mainers, veterans, our elderly, people suffering from drug addiction, or mental illness. 

Maine’s General Assistance budget has grown 330% from $13 million to $43 million in 2023. The generosity of Maine taxpayers should have a limit and we should take care of the needs of our citizens first.

I support legal immigration and the hard work and dedication that comes with it. Our communities are stronger because of people that invested years taking the necessary steps to become productive citizens and contributors.

The Mills administration and legislative leaders need to provide a plan for addressing this unsustainable situation going forward. I care about the people that are here, but attracting even more migrants without meeting pressing state needs is irresponsible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance with state matters. I can be reached at Caleb.Ness@legislature.maine.gov or call 207 287-1440. Thank you for your interest reading this, your input and support.

Sincerely, Rep. Caleb Ness (R-Fryeburg)

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