Thursday, April 19, 2012

How a last-minute miracle saved the House of Charity's summer sleep program, yet again.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 3:57 PM

For the last two years, administrators at House of Charity have thought they would need to close down their sleep program — one of the few places homeless men could legally sleep indoors during the summer. But each time, the program found a way to survive. Catholic Charities found a new grant or funding stream, or some new donor generously stepped up.

They didn’t think history would repeat itself this year.

Earlier this week, Assistant Director Jerry Schwab told The Inlander that this time, for sure, it was closing on May 1st.

“We’ve passed the point of no return,” Schwab had said. “This time it’s kind of like, ‘OK, we need to be honest with the community — this is not going to be solved through $20,000 to $50,000.’” Government funding that used to go to shelters, he says, has now been diverted to permanent housing.

They had already made the decision, already told their employees they had been furloughed. But Schwab didn’t expect what happened next: two donations that, combined, blew their previous $20,000 and $50,000 donations out of the water.

Two people had died. One had placed Catholic Charities in her or his will, the other actually specified House of Charity.

“It wasn’t until earlier this week, there was the first inkling that there might be these gifts coming forward,” says Gene DiRe, associate director for Catholic Charities

In total, he says, the two donations exceed $100,000. For now — and that’s the constant refrain, “for now” — the summer program will remain open.

Still, Schwab says he and his staff have been frustrated by the trend the last few years. “We felt incredibly yo-yoed with what we were going through,” Schwab says. 

DiRe says stabilizing the long-term financial situation is a discussion already underway.

“Our board of directors is already working on a plan for the agency and its services, to determine which services can be sustained on a long term basis,” DiRe says. “As they look at that, the sleeping program has become part of that study.”

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