RUMFORD — Katrina White can hardly wait to move into her brand new home. She's on the list to become the first tenant of a second-floor, bright, two-bedroom apartment that is part of a Transitional Housing Program.
On Thursday afternoon, White and dozens of other people, walked through the new apartment as well as the first-floor, three-bedroom apartment that are part of the Victorian-style building on 49 Washington St. Rumford Group Homes Inc. has put together its third transitional home, and was holding an open house.
Paula Paladino, spokeswoman for Rumford Group Homes, said nearly two years were needed to get the financing and the renovation done.
The low interest loan was through Maine Housing, and the JTG Foundation of Lewiston provided the funds for new appliances and furnishings. Rumford Group Homes maintenance man, Bruce Plante, provided much of the renovation work.
Sprinkled through the two floors were colorful patchwork quilts. They were created by the Bridgton Threads of Love Ministry and Peru resident Barbara Morse.
Paladino said many of the quilts are given to the babies of clients in one of the Group Homes' programs.
The philosophy behind a transitional home is to give a tenant, who must have been homeless with one or more children and between the ages of 18 and 28, a bridge between homelessness and becoming a fully functioning, responsible member of society.
Those chosen to live in the new transitional home, or in a second one in Rumford and a third in Norway, are allowed to live in the home for up to two years while they develop skills needed for self-sufficiency. During that time, case managers, such as Melissa McEntee and Alison Stimson, help clients with basic life skills such as cleaning and housekeeping. They also providing career searches and anything else that is needed to get a headstart on a new life.
Paladino said the homeless situation is a large issue in Oxford County with the economy so poor and the lack of housing for individuals who need it.
Rumford Group Homes takes referrals from social-service agencies as well as from those who believe they qualify for one of the apartments that become available.
A Section 8 or other housing voucher can be used by tenants to pay the rent, Paladino said.
She said Rumford Group Homes has the only homeless youth outreach program in Oxford County.
White, who has a 9-week-old daughter, stayed at a shelter for a while, then Rumford Group Homes found her a tiny apartment. She works as a personal care assistant. The thought of moving into the new apartment is exciting.
“I'm super-excited. I want it so bad. It's awesome,” she said.