New center will help improve lives of homeless families with children in Hancock County


The Families First Community Center in Ellsworth is looking to welcome its first of six families by the end of the month.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — lt was supposed to open in May this year, but because of some construction delays due to the ongoing pandemic, the Families First Community Center in Ellsworth is finally getting ready to welcome its first family by the end of December.

Families First Community Center in Ellsworth is a new communal living space for families with kids who are homeless or near homelessness.

The transitional center is set to welcome its first of six families by the end of this month. The six-family apartment building is aimed at committed families who are willing to create a life plan that will help them get back on their feet, by providing them with basic life skill programs or classes. Basic life skills like cooking, parenting, budgeting, and child care will be provided to qualifying Hancock County families.

“People need a place to live, and when you go to an emergency shelter, you get a voucher, or you get a meal or you get a bed, and then it’s like a revolving door. You go back. This is to equip you with skills, so maybe it’s parenting, maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s budgeting, but the idea is you leave here independent, and so that you don’t have to return to homelessness,” FFCC housing executive director Maureen Bartley said.

“This is a key piece to getting some of those skills so that you don’t have to ever go back to an emergency shelter,” Bartley said. “I’ve seen the women come to emergency shelters, fleeing domestic violence. I’ve seen them get the meal, get the bed, no skills, and I’ve seen them return.”

So the Families First Community Center’s goal is to provide more than just an emergency shelter. It will offer different resources to the families for them to commit to a life plan. 

Families should be able to complete that life plan and move out of the house in a year or a year and a half. 

Some of the other services this renovated victorian house plans to also offer include child care, job skills, and tutoring, medical, dental, and eye care, different types of therapy, domestic violence support, drug, and alcohol recovery programs and working with a case manager to try and secure affordable and permanent housing for when they leave the house.

“The idea is that you leave here independent so that you don’t have to return to homelessness,” Bartley said.

Jen applied to live in the house, her 20-year-old daughter also applied for a unit. Homelessness is now affecting three generations of her family. “She has a child that is living with her, an adult child that has a child, and they are all living with her parents,” Bartley said.

Jen hopes the board of directors at the house will accept their applications as possible residents. An opportunity she thinks will help her break that cycle and focus on life skills.

“To get back on my feet, you know…it’s hard. Right now with the pandemic and everything,” Jen said. “I’m laid off right now, so I need to find a job and they are going to help with all that.”

If you or someone you know who lives in Hancock County might benefit from this new project, the center is currently receiving applications. You can contact them at 207-460-3711 or send them an email at familiesfirstellsworth@gmail.com.

To check more on what this victorian house in Ellsworth has to offer, click here.

If you have some extra time, they are also looking for volunteers to help set up this victorian house.


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