Clark County: Contract ended for homeless work after ‘multiple violations’ found

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Sheltered Inc. director: ‘It’s hard to not feel blindsided by this.’

Clark County officials said the termination of a $700,000 contract with a local nonprofit that provides services to people experiencing homelessness last month happened after a state office found “multiple violations” regarding reimbursement of funds.

The Clark County Department of Job and Family Services requested the commission terminate its contract with Sheltered Inc., which the commission approved on Feb. 22.

A memo sent to Sheltered Inc. by the Clark County Department of Job and Family Services on Feb. 23 said the termination of the contract occurred after a monitoring visit review by staff from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which identified issues with documentation.

“The most glaring [issue] was the lack of proper [Prevention, Retention and Contingency] applications for recipients of services,” wrote Clark County DJFS director Ginny Martycz in the memo. “Additionally, it appears there were requests for reimbursement for items paid for by other funding sources.”

Martycz confirmed her office is reviewing Sheltered Inc. The nonprofit submitted all of the documents the Clark County DJFS asked of it.

Sheltered Inc. executive director Elaina Bradley said she has not received communication from the county, aside from the memo her organization received in February related to the contract termination.

“It’s hard to not feel blindsided by this,” she said on Thursday.

>> Springfield homelessness nonprofit faces ‘financial crisis,’ director says

Prevention, Retention and Contingency, or PRC, is a program through Ohio DJFS that provides work support and other services to low-income families. This program is funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a federally funded program.

People eligible for assistance through PRC include parents of children younger than 18 and pregnant women and teens. Services covered through PRC are the following: clothing and shelter, domestic violence housing relocation assistance, disaster assistance, transportation, employment and training.

The commission approved a sub-grant agreement with the nonprofit Sheltered Inc., formerly called Interfaith Hospitality Network, in June 2021. It awarded $700,000 in federal funding through the Ohio DJFS’ TANF fund, according to the agreement the Springfield News-Sun obtained through Ohio public records laws.

“There are really good reasons why we took the steps that we did to handle that contract,” said Clark County commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt during Wednesday’s commission meeting. “We’re trying to do these things according to the law, we’re trying to do things right and at the same time, prevent people from falling through the gaps.”

Those who may need connected to services, including food and housing vouchers, may reach out to Ohio DJFS’ 211 line for assistance, Flax Wilt said.

Flax Wilt said her office has not received communication from Sheltered Inc. following the decision to terminate the contract.

The Clark County commission had approved the funding for the nonprofit to provide emergency shelter and case management services to people facing homelessness from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023.

According to the memo, “there may be substantial TANF funds that need recouped” from Sheltered Inc.

Bradley said her organization has been a recipient of the funding for nearly two decades.

The Clark County Department Job and Family Services monitors the program annually, Bradley said, and the organization has no previous annual monitoring findings.

More than $200,000 was left in the two-year grant agreement before the contract was terminated in February, Bradley said.

“And it’s created a domino effect for our organization,” she said.

Sheltered Inc. is a partner in the county and city’s joint homelessness task force. The task force consists of Clark County and Springfield agencies and organizations geared toward housing, employment, mental health and more.

The taskforce was started months back to gather more information about how many people locally lack stable housing and what long-term solutions can help address the boom in homelessness.

Springfield City Commission in recent months approved the purchase of the Villager Inn on West North Street for $1.7 million and the Executive Inn on West Columbia Street for $2.2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The hotel spaces are being rehabilitated for use as a homeless shelter, and city officials said the plan upon purchase was to transfer ownership and management of the shelter spaces to Sheltered Inc.

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