May 26, 2019
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Nonprofit that runs Bangor’s only shelter for families is closing

Alex Acquisto | BDN
Alex Acquisto | BDN
Donald Lynch, assistant director of Families and Children Together, stands in front of the home that his agency had hoped to open as a family shelter this spring. On Thursday, the group announced that it’s closing its doors and won’t open the family shelter.

A nonprofit agency in Bangor that supports children and families struggling with emotional, behavioral and substance use challenges is closing in the next few weeks. The agency, Families and Children Together, had also opened the city’s only emergency shelter for families about six months ago.

Families and Children Together is terminating all its services by May 31 “due to lack of funding and resources,” Executive Director Beverly Daniels said in a news release. The organization’s board of directors took a vote Monday to shut down.

The group had received grant funding from the federal Children’s Bureau through 2017, but when that funding ended, the organization couldn’t keep up with the expense of services that continued to cost the same or more, said spokesman Derek Hurder.

According to the group’s tax filings that are available through 2017 on the website ProPublica, it has generally had annual operating expenses between $1.5 million and $1.8 million in recent years, along with revenues between $1.6 million and $1.9 million. The organization had been in the black through 2017, those records show.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the bulk of its proceeds came from either contributions and grants, or revenue from its programs. It received $879,989 in government grants and $110,911 in other contributions that year, along with $688,032 from MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid.

About half of its expenses were to compensate its staff. The group had 14 employees.

The two families that have been living in the organization’s emergency shelter in Bangor are now moving into permanent housing, Hurder said, and the group is trying to find another agency that can continue to run the shelter and provide the group’s other services.

“We know the family shelter is still needed in this community,” Hurder said. “We are working on transition plans that will cause the least disruption for the clients we currently serve. Our community has always enjoyed a level of collaboration in the social services field, which will make those transitions much easier. That said, our hope is that other agencies and organizations will take the mantle with as little disruption as possible.”

The group opened the emergency shelter for families that have lost their housing in October 2018. Family members needing emergency shelter in Bangor are often split between different shelters.

[Bangor board sends family shelter to council for final OK]

Last summer, city officials had approved a zoning change the organization needed to open the shelter at the corner of Elm and Somerset streets, and earlier this month, the agency announced that it would hold an open house and ribbon cutting at the shelter on May 10. Families and Children Together has owned the house since 2016, according to property records.

The facility is Bangor’s only shelter for families who are experiencing homelessness, according to the group. Before it opened, the city had not had another such shelter in more than a decade. It’s funded through grants, private donors and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Families and Children Together also has a contract from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to help families that provide treatment foster care, an advanced type of foster care for children who have experienced trauma and require special interventions. According to the agency’s website, it provides 24-hour support and compensation to those families.

Maine DHHS spokeswoman Jackie Farwell said the state agency “will work with these foster families and children to ensure they maintain access to services through this transition.”

The organization also helps facilitate adoptions, offers housing for people with intellectual disabilities and provides prenatal care to women with substance use challenges, among other services.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that the Families and Children Together emergency shelter for families had not yet opened. It opened last fall, but the group planned a ribbon cutting for early next month.


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