HomewardBound pleads for city’s help to stay open

HomewardBound pleads for city's help to stay open

Executive Director Jade Joyce shows the family and veterans area at Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley’s current shelter, 2853 North Ave. The shelter is seeking financial support from the city since it operated at a $50,000 loss during fiscal year 2015.



It may be in the form of a loan or a one-time boost, but Grand Junction city councilors indicated they are willing to at least seek money in their budget for an emergency, last-minute request to keep the doors open at Grand Junction’s homeless shelter, HomewardBound of the Grand Valley, 2853 North Ave.

Councilors said at their Monday night workshop they plan to hear back on the status of their funds and decide whether they can loan or offer the needed $44,000 for day-to-day shelter operations during discussions at their Wednesday night council meeting.

HomewardBound board member Bill Wade said the city’s decision literally determines whether the shelter will have to close in a few weeks. HomewardBound is operating on the last of its $11,000 in reserves, an amount that is less than the nonprofit agency’s bi-monthly payroll of about $13,000.

Wade said HomewardBound already has cut staff to reduce expenses and it cannot afford to trim any more staff members while maintaining a safe operation.

“The basic issue is that I don’t want to not make payroll for those people,” Wade said. “We’ve cut everything else to the bone. These people (clients) need basic services.”

HomewardBound served 1,340 individuals last year. It provides a bed to 150 to 200 people a night and offers meals to more than 200 people daily.

Wade said neither the city of Grand Junction or Mesa County has helped fund operations. The governments do help by awarding pass-through federal grants to HomewardBound.

However, grant funding by the federal agencies, the state and private groups has diminished or disappeared in recent years, leaving HomewardBound at a loss for coming up with funds for daily operations.

Wade said private funding agencies often ask about the shelter’s city and county contributions, which funding agencies like to see at about 10 percent of operations. Wade said Mesa County commissioners have denied funding requests.

“I can only dance around that so far,” Wade said of answering questions from private granting organizations.

HomewardBound expects to operate this year on funds just shy of $560,000. Payroll costs are projected to soak up most of those costs — $395,958.

Wade said some dollars expected in July or August from developers’ fees on the agency’s new project, 40 transitional apartment units called Pathways Village, will sustain HomewardBound for the second half of 2016.

Pathways Village, which is under construction off 29 Road and should be finished in early summer, is being pursued by HomewardBound, but its funding is not intertwined with the homeless shelter.

Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said it is unusual for a nonprofit organization to seek help with operational costs, though the city often helps with capital funding requests. He questioned whether funding HomewardBound would set a precedent to fund operations at other agencies.

“We definitely want to support this program and programs like this,” Boeschenstein said. “Are people going to come ask for operating expenses?”

Councilor Duncan McArthur said not funding the homeless shelter and having it close down would cost the city in other ways, for example having to pay more for police and medical services from the Grand Junction Fire Department.

Councilor Barbara Traylor Smith said she didn’t want to see the shelter close, but wondered how other cities managed to keep doors open on their homeless shelters.

A shelter in Denver reportedly turns away hundreds of people a night, according to discussions.

Traylor Smith asked HomewardBound officials if they could figure out how to work within their means to accept as many people each night as they can afford.

Wade said the agency is legally bound not to discriminate who it accepts inside.

“How would you determine who gets helped?” asked Jade Joyce, HomewardBound’s interim director in response to Traylor Smith.


COMMENTS

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City council needs to figure out how to fund this shelter. I guess if you’ve never been homeless then if you turn a blind eye to it the problem goes away. In Denver, the city has multiple locations for homeless to spend the night. I agree that if the there is no shelter then police, fire and other services such as hospitals will end up treating them. Maybe the shelter could attract more volunteers to assist in the operation to help save on payroll. Roice-Hearst Humane Society has many volunteers that assist in it’s operation. Surely a good community like Grand Junction can assist with this valuable community resource until other options can be found.

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