Franklin Countys First News

Western Maine Homeless Outreach closes shelter doors for good

Last year's public hearing on the relocation of the Western Maine Homeless Outreach shelter.

FARMINGTON - After a two-year search for a new location, Western Maine Homeless Outreach will be closing its doors for good with an uncertain future ahead.

The shelter, which has housed up to 16 individuals at a time, operated out of the basement of the Living Waters Assembly of God church on Route 2. WMHO moved into the space six years ago on a temporary lease, Pastor Steve Bracy said. That lease was extended by two years in 2018, with an end date of this October.

"It was never intended to be a permanent location," Bracy said.

Last summer, shelter staff and board members went through an extensive process of seeking approval from the Farmington Planning Board to move into the Holman House, owned by Old South Congregational Church. That proposal was voted down by board members, sending WMHO back to square one in terms of finding a new home.

The shelter faced an additional hurdle in March when the COVID-19 pandemic reached its doorstep. In order to comply with the state-required safety regulations, WMHO was forced to shut down and place residents in alternative living situations. Most of them were able to move into apartments through a connection with a local landlord, WMHO Coordinator Andrew Parlin said.

"Like everybody else, we thought it would be temporary," Parlin said.

What was temporary turned into a four-month closure, and now, Parlin said, there isn't much sense in going through the difficult process of reopening only to close again at the end of October.

Parlin said they are already getting requests that they can't fulfill. Most requests get passed along to town offices, where homeless citizens can apply for General Assistance and get financial aid for things like hotel rooms, clothing, or hygiene products. The next closest shelters are Solon and Skowhegan, but most people don't want to relocate if they don't have to.

Some of the services that WMHO offers will still be available; things such as assistance with applying for housing vouchers, connecting the homeless to local landlords and offering classes that the vouchers require, as well case management services.

Parlin said they hope to find a new location before the cold weather sets in, but as of now they have no leads.

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17 Responses »

  1. I am so saddened to hear that Franklin County is losing our one and only homeless shelter! The community worked so hard for a long time to bring it to fruition. If I recall correctly, when the planning board rejected the move to the Holman House, I thought John Moore was going to lead a committee to find a new location since he led the opposition to the Holman House. What happened to that plan? We can do better than this in Franklin County.

  2. As a suggestion, consider utilizing the unused space at the college. Ready made living quarters. Social services right up the streets at the welfare center. Don’t forget the On site dining. As a taxpayer you’ve been paying to keep the college fully staffed for how long, with no students in attendance? Use the facility or make them start paying their share of property taxes.

  3. What a sad outcome! I echo the above comment of Lisa Lemieux.

    See the DB article & Comments of July 9, 2019.

  4. Completely agree with Lisa Lemieux. Where is John Moore now? Where is Dick Bjorn now? They were the leading voices in shutting down prospects for moving the shelter, but said they'd work on finding another location. That was a year ago. Shameful that John Moore and Dick Bjorn don't use their money and influence to help these families.

  5. That's it,,
    Go ahead, SIT THERE and DO nothing other than complain about this.

    That's the ticket.

    Offer a spare room in your home.

    Everything Is Beautiful.

  6. Vicky Cohen, Dick Bjorn has helped families in this community when he donated nearly half a million dollars too the foster tech program !! How much have you donated for these people. Got an empty bedroom ? His actions have spoken louder than your words.

  7. This should not be attack on John Moore or Dick Bjorn, both of these men have given way more then anyone else in the community.
    Has the community asked for people to offer space ?
    Has the community had any fund raisers?
    Has anyone started a gofund page?
    Maybe the town could put people up for two months in a apartment with a job attached to it.
    No one wants to be homeless. This is a serious problem. And I wish I could save everyone, but I can’t.
    And I would say with the coronavirus going on people are trying to just stay alive. Keeping there own business alive. Please be gentle we all need more love in this world!

  8. Calm down folks, it's not the end of the world. Many worse problems in the area and country. Stop the blame
    Game. Mr. Moore and Mr. Bjorn and their families have done more for this area than just about anyone else
    I can think of. Look at allllll the amazing work along that area of the town that they have invested millions.
    We alllll enjoy that, including any homeless who wish to hang out. There are numerous agencies that help
    These folks with money and other assistance. They will not be living under a tarp in the woods unless they
    Choose to. I think Peter has an EXCELLENT point. The college could step up....there are hundreds of empty
    Dorm rooms available. I think they may even have empty dorm rooms during a normal college semester.
    Let them step up an use allllll that tax payer funded real estate to help those few homeless folks. Or maybe
    They don't want them in their space???? Is that possible??? Can we hear any response from someone at
    UMF admin??? Maybe other towns with college campuses that are empty can step up in their own local
    Community areas. Lots of homeless folks would suddenly have a nice tax payer funded home!!!! Maine
    Can lead the country once again!!!! Let's go folks....

    Probably gonna fall on deaf ears!!!

  9. Not everyone has a spare bedroom, however if you do...

  10. Lets not forget the beautiful park from the Bjorn family. Make a tent city there. Ha Ha Ha.

  11. Hello All,

    As the current President of WMHO, I would like to clarify a few points. John Moore and Dick Bjorn are avid supporters of the homeless shelter and have offered and donated significant resources in the past, with continued support for the future. Anyone that knows either of these community members knows that our community is better off from their generosity that has spanned decades.

    While WMHO is continuing to offer services to the homeless population in Franklin County, it is true that we are currently unable to offer beds for overnight stay at this time. Living Waters Assembly of God has been very generous with offering us a facility well beyond the original intended timeline, and we are very thankful for their flexibility and support over the last few years.

    We are looking for a new shelter location, but are in fact finding it difficult to find a permanent location within our budget. We would encourage anyone that is able to contribute financially towards a new shelter to please follow the link on our facebook page. Recurring monthly donations are specifically very helpful in showing financial institutions that we have a recurring donor base, which helps to secure financing power for a new shelter location. For now, we are operating out of a donated office space on Perham Street.

    We hope to be serving the community at our full capacity in the future again.

  12. I think Peter is on the right track, better yet, maybe we should just shut all of UMF down permanently and convert it all into homeless housing. That's right, I said it, close the lib snowflake factory down. All us big brained MAGA folk know all they're doing is training more "teachers" - overpaid lefties, sitting around all summer counting their money, eating fancy food like vegetables and listening to Terri Gross on NPR push her elitist socialist agenda. We need more teachers right now like we need universal health care. NOT AT FRICKIN ALL. Plus, those teachers just go into the classrooms and cram the lib agenda right down our kids throats (evolution, round earth theory, grammar, etc) Farmington will be just fine without the hundreds of jobs the university creates and I'm sure all the business wouldn't even notice the loss of 1600 students in town. I bet we'd even see our taxes drop if we shuttered the socialist antifa training ground. Who's with me?

  13. Ben,
    1st off thank you for your very important work helping homeless people. Many of us are only a few paychecks away from the same scenario. Usually good people in bad circumstances. Not to be judged.

    2nd, Thanks for stepping in to stand up for John and Richard and their families. I dont know Richard but I have known John for years and he is straight up, a fine person.

    The progressives/ socialists have no respect for successful people. Attacking them only because they are financially successful. They bought into Obama fantasy that "if your white and have a business,,, you didn't build it".

    To them, kill your false information feeds and go meet some of these supposedly evil rich people.
    You would learn something for a change...

    And while you're finally out and about, maybe do something Richard , John and Ben have already done, Help Someone Less Fortunate Than You.
    Now there's some social justice...

    Thanks to the local Church as well.
    Many heads had pillows and many people were safe because of you.

    Everything Is Beautiful.

  14. Temple Elvis is right and I stand with him/he/it. We don't need those Commies creating Antifa sleeper cells.
    After all, in Franklin County, we are the first line of defense against a foreign invasion.
    We can do without all the revenue the "students" and staff bring to area businesses.
    I am sure some snowflake from the University will say that the buildings are funded by tuition, room and board fees etc and that state dollars are not a main contributor. I don't believe it for one minute. Yes, let's shut it down.
    And while we are at it, let's turn Mt. Blue High School into another homeless shelter. Why do we need such a fancy building. In my day all we needed was a brick house, and abusive headmaster and one book to share. Many of the kids we spend all this money on leave because they have been brainwashed by the Clinton's and OBAMA to believe there is a better life through education. Thanks snowflakes for taking our money via a free education and then leaving us behind to pine for the good old mills.

    Let's get President Trump to put 300% tariffs on all products coming into Maine from anywhere in the world. I am sure Bass will come running back to Wilton begging to pay taxes for the privilege of hiring the new work force looking for jobs. With no High School, we can bring back the child labor force that made America great in the first place. Having ten fingers is over rated.

    Temple Elvis, we need to get you on the ballot for US Senate. Gideon is a socialist and Collins is a despicable RINO. Temple Elvis for US Senate on the MAGA ticket.

    I always knew you were a good person Temple Elvis. Maybe you can kill the rural broadband initiative. I get my 2 channels via rabbit ears just fine and the only streaming I consider is a place to fish.

  15. I also stand with Temple Elvis. This town will be just fine without the university. We can get by just fine with Walmart, construction, and the hospital. Walmart employees definitly will need construction services now that they make $12 an hour, and the doctors can by stuff at Walmart. The only thing I disagree with is that we need two chanells on our rabbit ears. I get by with one, and it's enough.

  16. what we really need is more affordable housing / .education ... jobs and training ....affordable childcare etc .... affordable food .... then people would not be in a situation of homelessness ....

  17. I'm on board with Temple Elvis too. Back in my day we didn't even have a local online newspaper to make ridiculous conspiracy theory comments on. We had to open our front door and yell crazy things at our neighbor, or the cat.