Portland’s Oxford Street Shelter saw a surge in demand from homeless people on Monday night, when 257 individuals sought refuge from the bitter cold.

It was the most individuals the shelter had served in one night since March 2014, according to a post Tuesday on the Facebook page of Preble Street, a community service agency that serves the city’s homeless through its soup kitchen, housing and shelters. The Oxford Street Shelter is designed to house 154 people.

It was brutally cold Monday night into Tuesday morning in Portland. The National Weather Service said the temperature dipped to near zero and the wind chill made it feel like 20 degrees below zero. Frostbite can occur in just 15 to 30 minutes under those conditions.

“Frigid winters make homelessness in Maine all the more gruesome and painful,” Preble Street wote in its post. “Preble Street is grateful the City of Portland is taking action on this tragic situation.”

The city says the Oxford Street Shelter is outdated and poorly designed, and the City Council’s Health & Human Services and Public Safety Committee is currently considering 14 potential sites for one or more new homeless shelters.


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