Rockland teen shelter closes

Posted Nov. 25, 2008, at 8:45 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Breakwater Emergency Homeless Teen Shelter has closed after nearly seven years of operation.

Home Counselors Inc., a nonprofit child welfare service provider and overseer, had operated a 16-bed shelter at the city-owned 218 Main St. building since Christmas Eve 2001, said Sydne Matus, youth coordinator at the shelter.

“We are moving out, but we don’t have plans to reopen,” she said.

“November 23rd was our last night, and we had two kids staying with us,” she said. “We have found other places for them.”

Since opening, the shelter has housed more than 210 boys and girls and provided more than 5,800 bed nights and 11,000 meals to teenagers. More than 24 percent of the guests were age 14 or younger, and 60 percent came from Knox County, she said.

Earlier this year, the city of Rockland contracted to sell the property at 218 Main St. that housed the Breakwater Shelter.

Camden resident John K. Hanson Jr., publisher of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine, bid $360,000 for the property in February. Hanson, who plans to move his operation to Rockland, gave the shelter until Dec. 1 to find a new home. The facility closed Sunday.

Efforts to relocate the shelter have focused on an eight-bed facility at 58 Brewster St., originally intended in 2001 to house the teen shelter. This facility was never renovated, however, after the former MBNA generously extended an invitation to move into the Main Street property, said Matus.

The Rockland Planning Board approved a plan for required changes in the Brewster Street building, but getting the $330,000 necessary to meet state requirements proved difficult, Matus said.

Critical factors involved with the decision to close the shelter included the extensive costs and feasibility of renovating a new facility to comply with handicapped accessibility and state licensing requirements; a continuing deficit in the shelter’s operating revenue due to funding formula changes; and the serious economic down-turn and credit market crisis, said a press release.

While there are no immediate plans to reopen the shelter at this time, the issue remains under review, Matus added.

Home Counselors continues to maintain the Brewster Street property.

“We appreciate the collaboration extended from various community entities, including local police and fire departments, churches, individual donors, schools, nonprofit service providers, charitable foundations and, in particular, the former MBNA,” Matus said. “Our deepest gratitude goes to recognizing the original high school students whose efforts helped launch this project and the committed staff who have seen its continuation.”

Home Counselors will continue to provide outreach services to young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and will help facilitate transportation as necessary to the nearest available shelter. Service inquiries for youths should be directed to the Home Counselors youth counselor at 596-0359.

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