Youth homeless shelter in Skowhegan closes due to lack of funds

Posted Sept. 06, 2013, at 5:34 p.m.

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — A youth homeless shelter is closing its doors after more than 30 years of operation.

Last week, the Halcyon House on Middle Road stopped accepting referrals. Currently, there are no youths at the shelter.

“It was with a heavy heart we closed it,” Kennebec Behavioral Health CEO Thomas McAdam said on Friday.

After a limited program merger with Youth and Family Services Inc. in 2012, KBH has operated the shelter since. Last year the shelter had a deficit of $88,000. It’s on pace to have a deficit of $120,000 this year. The shelter costs more than $400,000 a year to operate.

“I was afraid we were going to put other programs at risk,” said McAdam, adding that KBH has 27 programs in total, including five mental health services clinics. “We didn’t make this decision lightly.”

McAdam said the loss of state revenue plus the lack of federal dollars for the shelter created yearly deficits. KBH likely would have continued operating the shelter if the deficit wasn’t quite so high, he said.

“We were hoping we could get it to come a little closer to breaking even, but even with a Herculean effort on our part, we were still on track to lose more than $100,000 a year,” he said. “The bottom line is when we tally up the little rivers of funding, it’s still, in the end, not enough to make it work out. If it had been even a little closer, we would’ve continued to run it.”

Halcyon House took in 68 youths ages 12 to 17 last year and provided them with housing, food, clothing, homework assistance and clinical assistance. The maximum length of stay was 30 days, but the average length is nine to 10 days, McAdam said.

The Maine State Housing Authority announced on July 15 that it was reducing its youth-per-night reimbursement rate to $10.34 per night, according to a statement from KBH. However, it costs the agency $180 per youth per night to run the state-licensed shelter, which is staffed around the clock. The staffing requirement is doubled if more than seven youths are at the shelter at once.

McAdam said he was grateful for the support from the community over the years, specifically United Way and area churches.

“We’re really grateful for everything people did to help us out. We certainly didn’t want to do it,” he said.

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