FARMINGTON — Organizers of Franklin County’s first homeless shelter have postponed the shelter’s opening date from Oct. 1 to at least Oct. 15 because of delayed construction and a funding shortage.

Earlier this year, local social service agencies and churches formed Western Maine Homeless Outreach to open a shelter in the basement of the Living Waters Assembly of God Church in Farmington and eventually build a free-standing shelter.

The Rev. Steve Bracy, whose Wilton Road church will house the shelter, said while they have the material to start building, construction has yet to begin. Bracy said those doing the work are donating their time after regular hours, and it’s hard for them to find spare time.

He said they now are aiming to open Oct. 15, though if delays continue, the actual opening date could be as late as Nov. 1.

The group has raised about $10,000 and still needs to raise about $16,600 more for start-up costs, according to Chuck Ellis, an outreach board member and minister of Summit Faith Community. He said the money will fund the initial costs and possibly the first month of the shelter’s operation, but more money will be needed to keep the shelter open.

Tompkins said the shelter already has a waiting list of at least 11 people. She said organizers were contacted recently by a family of seven that moved to the area intending to live with relatives, but those plans fell through, leaving them unexpectedly homeless.

The shelter will be one of 44 shelters in Maine and will eventually have 20 to 24 beds for area families. The outreach effort doesn’t have the resources to set up space for singles and still will have to refer single people to shelters in other areas.

According to the Maine State Housing Authority annual “point-in-time survey,” there were 1,175 homeless people in Maine on Jan. 30, the day of the survey.

Organizers said one of the problems they have to overcome is one of awareness. They said it is difficult to define the homeless population in the rural area, when living in a car or on a neighbor’s couch is not considered homelessness for the purpose of government grants for shelters.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]