ROCKPORT, Maine — The only homeless shelter in Knox County remains closed, but homeless advocates hope to have it up and running within the next two to four weeks.
Maine State Housing Authority acquired the deed to the property on Jan. 18 in lieu of foreclosure on the former owner the Mid-Coast Hospitality House corporation, according to paperwork filed last week in the Knox County Registry of Deeds.
Deborah Turcotte, spokesperson for the the housing authority, said Wednesday that the agency is working out the final details of a lease with New Hope for Women for the shelter.
Anne Beebe Center of Penquis said the Knox County Homeless Coalition is working with Maine State Housing and other local service organizations to get the shelter open between mid-February and the end of February.
The shelter closed in late November with no notice given to Maine State Housing — which held the mortgage on the property — nor to the local churches that provided meals for residents of the shelter.
The housing authority will provide start-up money for New Hope, which will then receive reimbursement to operate the shelter based on the number of people who have a bed at the facility.
The shelter, located on Old County Road near the Rockland town line, will be a general homeless shelter and will not be limited to people being served by New Hope, Turcotte said.
The homeless coalition is still working on getting supplies needed to reopen the shelter, Beebe Center said. The shelter needs mattresses, linen and cleaning supplies. She said there had been a bedbug problem and the old mattresses will not be used.
The coalition also is working with different providers of social services to set up a system that will offer help to shelter residents to get them back on their feet so they can leave the facility at some point. Those services are expected to include education on how to manage a budget, how to look for housing, and how to find a job.
The shelter is reimbursed by the state for up to 15 people each night. Beebe Center said, however, that the building can handle more than 15 people and the group will work to increase the number of homeless who can be served there.
Meanwhile, Penquis, through a pilot program, has been housing 22 people in two motels in Rockport this winter. Beebe Center acknowledged that even with the shelter opening soon, the demand will sometimes exceed the availability of beds. She said the group is working with the two motels to handle the overflow population from Dec. 1 through March 31. She said the group also will work with camp sites to place some people during warmer weather.
The nearest shelters to Knox County are in Waterville and Bangor. The Penquis pilot program, aided by a grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development involves putting up families in local hotels during their offseason and providing them with education and job services. A study is being done on how to meet the local homeless need, and that report is expected to be done by March.
The nonprofit Mid-Coast Hospitality House corporation had purchased the property in October 1989. The 2,434-square-foot building is valued by the town at $370,000.
Maine State Housing, which provided a $140,000 mortgage to the nonprofit in 1990, said the corporation was current on its mortgage payments at the time the shelter closed. The remaining balance of $42,700 was absorbed by the housing authority after the Mid-Coast Hospitality House corporation disbanded on Nov. 27.
The transfer of ownership was filed by the remaining members of the now defunct Mid-Coast Hospitality House corporation. The directors signing off on the transfer were Patrick Mank, Joslyn Couch, Daniel Brown, Megan Harrington and Kathie Carrigan.