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ROCKPORT, Maine — The Maine State Housing Authority is taking steps to take possession of the Mid-Coast Hospitality House that closed two weeks ago and hopes to soon reopen the homeless shelter.
The quasi-government agency has already received calls from people who want to reopen the shelter, the only one of its kind in Knox County, according to Maine State Housing Authority Public Information Manager Deborah Turcotte.
She said longtime operator Gordon Mank Jr. had a meeting scheduled with housing authority officials Monday afternoon at the shelter but he failed to show. Housing authority officials found a letter from Mank stating the shelter was closed and the keys were inside.
Turcotte said the authority officials went through the home and found the power had been turned off. The building was in good shape both inside and outside, she said.
Maine State Housing had asked for the Monday meeting a few weeks ago when it learned that insurance on the shelter, for which the authority holds the mortgage, had lapsed.
Then on one of the final days of November, the agency received a telephone call from a man who had been referred to the Mid-Coast Hospitality House but found it was closed.
Telephone and email messages left with Mank by the housing authority were not returned.
The circumstances surrounding the closure remain sketchy.
The housing authority provides financing and subsidy funding for some emergency shelters such as the Mid-Coast Hospitality House. The final records filed with the agency by the Hospitality House show that four residents checked out on Nov. 25, Turcotte said. Shelters are required to enter information into a computer system accessible by the housing authority on residents who enter and leave the shelter.
Mank and his wife Samantha Mank had run the shelter since 1999. When contacted by the BDN Monday, Samantha Mank said she had no comment on why the shelter closed.
Paperwork to dissolve the nonprofit corporation Mid-Coast Hospitality House was filed Nov. 27 with the Maine Secretary of State by Joslyn Couch who is listed on the documents as the nonprofit shelter’s board chairwoman. Efforts by the BDN to locate Couch for comment have not been successful.
The other board officers and directors listed on the dissolution paperwork are Tom Luttrell, Kathie Carrigan, Gordon Mank and Daniel Brown. Luttrell said Monday he resigned from the board in July and had no information on why the shelter had since closed. Carrigan said she left the board about a year ago and also was surprised when she heard the shelter had closed. Carrigan had still organized meals for the shelter and said she learned of its closure when some of the volunteers who cook meals for shelter residents found the Hospitality House closed on the final week of November.
Gordon Mank and Daniel Brown, whose address was listed as Rockport, could not be reached for comment.
Mid-Coast Hospitality House was current with its mortgage payments to Maine State Housing Authority and had been making payments on time, Turcotte said. She said the balance of the mortgage was down to $42,700.
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.
She said the last paperwork filed by Hospitality House for reimbursement of its expenses was on Oct. 15 for the quarter that ended Sept. 30. She said reimbursement for expenses for the final quarter would need to be filed by Jan. 13. The Hospitality House has been paid $57,390 thus far this year.
The housing authority also reviews expense vouchers sent in by shelters and matches them up against the list of residents who sign in and the number of nights they stay.
Turcotte said the authority is doing everything it can to protect its asset and most importantly continue the program that serves the neediest individuals in the midcoast.
She said while there is no timetable for when the authority hopes to have the shelter reopen, the goal is “sooner than later.”
The nearest homeless shelters to the Knox County one, located on Old County Road near the Rockland line, are Bangor, Waterville and Brunswick. Each are more than an hour away.
According to the last income tax filing by the Hospitality House, that covered the 12 months ending March 31, 2011, the shelter had expenses of $165,631 with revenues of $122,035. At the end of that year, the Hospitality House still had $298,839 in reserves.
Turcotte said Tuesday she does not know the current status of the Hospitality House’s bank accounts or what would happen to any reserves.
The Hospitality House served 236 individuals for the year ending March 31, 2011, according to its IRS filing.