Tyshiem Brown, standing outside the Comfort Inn in Scarborough where he currently lives, doesn’t know what he will do if he can’t find a place to live before having to leave the hotel by the end of the year. The town renewed the hotel’s license contingent upon it returning to normal operations and that it stop housing homeless people by the end of the year. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

SCARBOROUGH — More than 80 guests at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Route 1 are preparing to leave after its owner agreed to stop sheltering homeless people – a move that will put the hotel back into compliance with town regulations by the end of the year.

The Town Council voted 6-1 Wednesday to renew the hotel’s operating license contingent on the owner’s plan to transition away from temporary housing and resume normal hotel operations before Jan. 1. The renewal had been delayed since May while the owner, Nexgen Hospitality Inc., addressed town officials’ concerns about a high number of public safety calls generated by hotel guests.

The plan calls for a staggered eviction process “to facilitate the safe and orderly removal of all current guests” from the 69-room hotel. One-third or about 20 guests are expected to move out or be removed by Nov. 1, the plan states. Two subsequent “waves” of guests would leave by Dec. 1 and by Jan. 1. Eviction notices would be served several weeks before guests were expected to leave.

The impending evictions worried several residents gathered Thursday outside the hotel at 329 U.S. Route 1, next door to the former Scarborough Downs.

“I’m a little concerned, but I’ve got some things lined up,” said Tyshiem Brown, 39, who is unable to work and has lived at the hotel since December. Social workers helped him find an apartment in Farmington, he said, but that would have been too far from his daughter, who lives with her mother in Portland.

“I don’t want to be too far from her,” he said.


Stephen Tarbox, 55, has lived at the hotel since March. He moved from Aroostook County to southern Maine in 2016 for treatment of a substance use disorder and has often been homeless. He’s been trying to find an apartment for a while, with assistance from the Veterans Administration.

“I have a caseworker and she’s trying to get me out of here by December,” Tarbox said. “If things don’t pan out, I’ll be back on the street.”

Priscilla Almodovar has been living at the Comfort Inn in Scarborough but just found out that she will be moving into an apartment in Portland in two weeks. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Priscilla Almodovar, 28, has been living at the hotel since February. She’s training for a job at the Goodwill store near the Maine Mall in South Portland and plans to move into a Portland Housing Authority apartment in two weeks. Two social workers with The Opportunity Alliance have been helping Almodovar and other hotel residents look for alternative housing and jobs.

“They are helping us,” Almodovar said. “Once we’ve been here a year, we have to leave. I think that’s fair. But some people are picky about where they want to live.”

The Opportunity Alliance is housing 80 to 100 clients in about 60 rooms at the Comfort Inn, said Mary Cook, the agency’s emergency rental program director. They include individuals, families and people of all ages. An additional 371 clients are staying in other area hotels, Cook said, and others are living in outdoor encampments.

“It’s going to be a struggle to find alternative housing because there’s such a limited supply,” Cook said. “We are committed to doing our very best to help people, but there’s such a high volume of need and we’re heading toward winter. We do expect that some people will be unsheltered.”


Nexgen Hospitality’s majority shareholder is listed on town documents as Vijay Yeety, 20 Ridgeway Road, Scarborough. Three hotels in South Portland – Days Inn, Comfort Inn and Howard Johnson – faced similar license scrutiny for sheltering homeless people and asylum seekers during the pandemic. They are owned by New Gen Hospitality Management, a family company managed by Suresh Gali.


Scarborough officials delayed the Comfort Inn’s license renewal after Police Chief Mark Holmquist told councilors that hotel guests generated 248 calls for emergency services in the first six months of 2022, compared to 101 calls throughout 2021 and just 50 calls in 2020.

“Like many businesses in the Scarborough community, the COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for the Comfort Inn,” the hotel’s transition plan states. “To keep the business viable through the crisis, the Comfort Inn began housing indigent guests referred by and funded through The Opportunity Alliance.”

To address public safety concerns, Nexgen Hospitality instituted weekly room inspections by Comfort Inn staff to ensure living conditions were safe and sanitary. The owner also hired a private security firm to help reduce calls for police and other emergency services.

At one point, as many as 91 homeless people were living at the Comfort Inn, said Town Manager Tom Hall. But as people have left in recent weeks, the hotel hasn’t accepted new guests.

“As guests vacate and/or are removed from the property, Comfort Inn will need to complete renovations and restorations to the property prior to re-opening to the general public,” the transition plan states. “(The hotel) intends to begin this work as each wave of current residents vacate and/or are removed, with the goal of having the property clean and freshly restored before the beginning of the 2023 tourist season.”

Town officials see the hotel’s transition plan as the best outcome for a challenging circumstance, Hall said.

“This has been a very difficult situation for the town, as well as the temporary residents of the Comfort Inn,” he said.

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