ROCKPORT, Maine — The region’s only homeless shelter has reopened after a 15-month hiatus, although it is far from capacity because of lack of money.
The Midcoast Hospitality House on Old County Road, near the Rockland town line, had seven residents on Thursday — a family of five and two single women, said Anne Beebe-Center, the chairwoman of the Knox County Housing Coalition.
The coalition is a new nonprofit organization that leases the shelter from the Maine State Housing Authority, which holds the mortgage on the property.
The plan is to accept families and single women when there are available beds, Beebe-Center said Thursday. Single men and other people who might not be appropriate shelter guests will be housed in the two motels in Rockport — Seven Mountains Motel and the Ledges, Beebe-Center said.
Hospitality House is not designed to adequately separate men from women, she said. The majority of people in need of housing are children, she added.
An executive director, Stephanie Primm, has been hired. One of the current residents has also been hired to provide oversight at the shelter.
Primm said that when people seek to stay at the shelter, a case manager will assess the person’s situation and come up with a plan to help the applicant get back on their feet and into their own residence. She said that not everyone who seeks a spot in the shelter will get one, but they would have access to other services designed to help secure permanent housing.
Beebe-Center said per diem workers are being trained to be case managers.
She also said the biggest challenge to reaching capacity is money to have staff around the clock, seven days a week.
“That’s why we’re opening slowly,” the board chairwoman said about this month’s reopening.
The shelter is licensed by the state to house 21 people.
The board consists of representatives of local churches, New Hope for Women, a vocational training specialist and others from the community. New Hope serves as the fiscal agent for the coalition because the coalition is waiting to gain federal nonprofit status.
The adjacent Nativity Lutheran Church has been providing meals for shelter guests, Beebe-Center said, and other churches are lined up to provide meals.
The Hospitality House closed in November 2012 with no notice or explanation.
The nonprofit Mid-Coast Hospitality House purchased the property in October 1989. The 2,434-square-foot building is valued by the town at $370,000. That organization dissolved after the shelter closed, and Maine State Housing Authority took ownership of the facility.