The Rockport homeless shelter that closed without warning in late November could reopen by the end of the year, according to Deborah Turcotte of the Maine State Housing Authority (MSH).

MSH took ownership of the property on Wednesday, December 12. MSH plans to contract with an organization to run the former Midcoast Hospitality House.

"The building is in excellent shape, inside and out," said Turcotte, a spokesperson for MSH. "We're working quickly to put a new shelter operation in the facility."

"We have been talking to established groups that have experience with managing homeless shelters," she said.

Until last month, Midcoast Hospitality House was run by Gordon Mank, Jr. His wife, Samantha Mank, who is now employed by the City of Rockland, sat on the board of directors, as did their son.

Turcotte said the mortgage payments had been made on time and when MSH staff entered the building on December 10, furnishings and household goods associated with the shelter had been left in functional condition. The electricity had been turned off.

The Hospitality House was not scheduled for a three-year inspection by MSH until 2013.

Reports submitted by Mank to MSH indicated the 18-bed shelter had been running at capacity, though many in the community, including service providers, questioned that. Repeated visits to the shelter by The Free Press during the winter of 2010-2011 found several rooms unoccupied, including those that could have housed up to a family of four.

Turcotte said MSH became aware that there could be a problem at the shelter in early November, when the insurance lapsed on the building. On November 14, MSH talked to Mank to set up a meeting for a management review on December 10. Mank agreed to meet, but failed to show up.

When MSH staff arrived at the shelter last Monday, they found a note Mank had left saying the shelter was closed.

MSH also discovered that Midcoast Hospitality House, a non-profit, filed papers with the Maine Secretary of State's office to dissolve on November 27.

MSH staff had not been able to contact the Manks from November until Wednesday, December 12.

"We've talked to the Manks today," said Turcotte on Wednesday, without elaboration. She said the discussion was helpful.

The next MSH filing is due in January and papers should be filed to comply with federal regulations, regardless of whether reimbursements are owed. In addition to government reimbursement, Midcoast Hospitality House received funds from United Way, area churches, individuals, and other sources, Turcotte said.

Any remaining reserve funds associated with the homeless shelter would not be under the jurisdiction of MSH, since MSH only reimburses for services rendered, said Turcotte.