Having hope again at the Hospitality House
Rockport — There is now a light at the end of the tunnel for the homeless population in Knox County as the area's homeless coalition establishes itself with Hospitality House in Rockport.
In November 2012, the homeless shelter abruptly closed its doors, leaving area homeless with no place to go. The former Mid-Coast Hospitality House Corporation then disbanded Nov. 27, 2012.
Knox County Homeless Coalition has since taken the reins of Hospitality House, which re-opened its doors Feb. 2. According to Interim Director Stephanie Primm, the only things that are the same are the name and Old County Road location.
“There is no one from the prior staff or board of directors involved and the current program is entirely different then what was done here during the previous regime,” she said. “The house used to be just a homeless shelter, now it is a place for the homeless that have no hope - to regain it and get back on their feet.”
One of the major changes since February is structured programming that residents must participate in to receive the housing service. Residents meet with case managers on a daily basis, who help residents find their way through the application process for services offered to them through multiple agencies. Residents are also taught basic life skills, such as creating a budget, applying for jobs, basic nutrition and hygiene education, filing for unemployment and host of others, Primm said.
“The former Hospitality House was really just an emergency shelter, where people were only allowed to be there overnight,” she said. “That is not the case anymore, it is cold out this time of year and most of the people who live here have no mode of transportation or anyplace to stay warm during the day. This is where providing a program for them becomes extremely important.”
Hospitality House has room for as many as 21 people and is currently at 50 percent capacity. To prepare for new residents, renovations also took place. Primm said she is amazed at the amount of work that has been done in just the short time since the house reopened and watching people who had lost all hope become fully involved in the program and succeed.
“The hope is that when the residents become invested in themselves, get involved in the programs available and become successful, they can break the cycle of homelessness,” Primm said.
All who seek a bed at Hospitality House may not receive one, but the application process will link the individual or family to other services when required.
When the Hospitality House closed its doors in 2012, Penquis developed a pilot program to house the areas homeless in local motels. If someone fails to meet requirements or is deemed to not be a good fit at the house, they can also be housed at one of a couple of local motels, Primm said. The closest homeless shelters to Knox County are located in Bangor and Waterville.
To contact Hospitality House, call 593-8151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website at midcoasthospitalityhouse.org also has an online contact form.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 303