An Augusta church could be turned into the city’s newest homeless shelter.
The group behind the proposal is trying to raise the money to convert the Green Street United Methodist Church into the Green Street United Community Living Center.
“So this will be the community center space,” said Betty St. Hilaire, one of the organizers hoping to turn part of the building into a 40-bed low-barrier shelter with bathrooms and showers.
Plus there’s room for 16 supported living units, which are like apartments with access to services.
There’s been a lot of updates already, but more work is needed.
The shelter would welcome those experiencing homelessness who may not be able to access other sites in the city.
“People in active substance use, people with untreated mental health and potentially people with criminal records,” St. Hilaire said.
Knowing they’ll need support to move this forward, the group recently brought their idea to city leaders.
“The reception by the City Council was positive,” Augusta Mayor Mark O’Brien said.
It was meant to be an introduction with no action needed yet.
“I’m pretty enthusiastic about it,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said like other communities, Augusta is trying to provide services and places for the unhoused to go to.
“I think this proposal fills a need, a niche in the continuum of opportunities they have here in Augusta,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said there was a question raised about where services are concentrated. But he thinks this could alleviate some of the issues seen in parts of the city.
“We have services on both sides of the river. There is some logic to where they are now. They have a building that’s really well suited to what they want to do,” O’Brien said.
The church’s asking price is just shy of $650,000, which typically isn’t covered by grants or foundation money.
All that money would come from fundraising.
St. Hilaire said the community has been generous in the past.
“We are very confident that we will be able to raise the money to buy the building and then be able to roll right into servicing the community,” St. Hilaire said.
The group is holding an open house and fundraiser from 4 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 28. The organizers want to share information about their proposal and share that vision with the community.
Anyone interested in donating can contact the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, which will be the fiscal sponsor for this effort. St. Hilaire said checks can be made out to the Green Street United Community Living Center.