FARMINGTON — Franklin County’s first homeless shelter is set to open Nov. 1, despite initial funding and construction setbacks.

The original start date was pushed back a month, while Western Maine Homeless Outreach pooled together more donations and found volunteers to renovate the church basement set to be used as the shelter.

The group has raised $18,010, which is below their start up budget of $29,046 but enough to get started, according to Rachel Jackson Hodsdon, president of the project’s executive board.

“People have been very generous so far, and we’re all still doing the best we can,” she said.

While organizers now have the money to open their doors for the shelter in the basement of the Living Water Assembly of God Church on Wilton Road, they are still trying to develop a plan for long-term financial sustainability.

She said the group hopes to raise an additional $10,000 by Thanksgiving through a $5,000 matching grant.

Atlantic Residential Resource, a small Maine foundation that supports homeless outreach progams, has offered the shelter the grant, which will provide matching funds for up to $5,000 raised.

The foundation stipulated that donors be individuals and not businesses, Jackson Hodsdon said. She said that rule is supposed to encourage the shelter to develop relationships with people in the community, which will be needed to keep the shelter sustainable.

She said the organization is also now enrolled in MaineCare and will be using the money to hire a case worker to help families find sustainable housing and address what led to their homelessness.

Summit Faith Community is also organizing a benefit concert Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in Nordica Auditorium at the University of Maine at Farmington, according to the church’s minister Ryan Goding.

He is on the shelter’s board and the church is one of its supporters.

Admission to the concert will be by donation and feature a performance by Garrett Soucy, who is a minister in Belfast.

Goding said his church’s denomination, Christian Reformed, also donated $2,500 to the shelter.

Goding said a lack of awareness about the homeless population in the county is still a problem that could be holding back donations.

“We don’t just need to raise money but awareness and have people understand that there is an actual need in the community,” he said.

The family shelter will be one of 44 shelters in Maine and will have 20 to 24 beds.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252[email protected]

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