WATERVILLE – Volunteers are setting up winter sleeping quarters in the basement of the First Baptist Church to house people turned away by an overcrowded homeless shelter on Ticonic Street.

The church shelter, organized by the Waterville Area Homeless Action Group, is scheduled to open Dec. 1 and will close sometime in April.

It is not part of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Ticonic Street, but the action group is working with shelter officials to help take the overflow, said Arlene Tully, a member of the group and pastor of the Pleasant Street United Methodist Church.

Tully said officials expect to house between 20 and 40 people a night at the church, at the corner of Park and Elm streets. The facility will be staffed by volunteers, with help from homeless shelter officials.

“The First Baptist Church has been very gracious to give us the basement space to use, but we need to raise funds for heating oil,” Tully said. “We’re guessing it will be somewhere in the range of $5,000 to $6,000. There’s no big pot of money sitting around, so we’ll have to raise funds in the community.”

The shelter, to be open only overnight, will also serve snacks and drinks.

Volunteers cleaned the basement last week, and will paint it, move in beds and make other preparations before the Dec. 1 opening.

Last week, the action group met at the church to discuss the pressing needs of homeless people in the area.

Betty Palmer, acting executive director of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, said the shelter has 18 beds, and as of Tuesday was housing 17 adults and six children.

“We turned 20 people away yesterday,” she said, noting that there is nowhere for those people to go. “You hope they find a couch to sleep on or friends to take them in.”

Dominic Dechaine, who works for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said that unlike Augusta, Waterville does not have rooming houses where people can go for the night.

Before this year, the homeless shelter was able to provide overflow housing in motel rooms, Tully said. This year, the shelter set aside $38,000 for that purpose, but the funds were depleted by September, she said.

The group also is looking at possibly establishing a “warming shelter” or place where homeless people can go during the day. Currently, they spend time at the Waterville Public Library, Waterville Social Club, High Hopes Clubhouse and other places, officials said.

Amy Przytulski, chairman of the action group, said it is looking for donations of twin beds that are in good shape, and the group also needs more volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter at 872-8082.

Donations may be sent to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, P.O. Box 2612, Waterville, ME 04901. Checks should be marked “For Overflow Housing.”