Clark County, state seek recovery of $500K from homelessness nonprofit

Agreement seeks repayment of funds from Sheltered Inc., which has contested findings.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Clark County Board of Commissioners has entered into an agreement with the Ohio attorney general to collect money those agencies said is owed by a Springfield nonprofit that oversees emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

The agreement, a memorandum of understanding, requires Sheltered Inc. pay back more than $500,000 owed in accordance with a payment plan monitored by Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.

“As you were notified in the contract termination letter, there were significant problems discovered in the review,” an April letter from DJFS to Sheltered Inc. read. “Reimbursements have been requested for October, November, and December 2022, but have not been reimbursed.”

Clark County Department of Jobs and Family Services Director Ginny Martycz said Wednesday the attorney general offered to facilitate the collection of the funds.

“We’re taking the actions that were recommended to us,” Martycz said.

Clark County Officials said in March that the termination of a portion of a $700,000 contract — of which about $495,000 was reimbursed to Sheltered Inc. — came after a review. They said this review found that the nonprofit had committed “multiple violations” in regards to the reimbursement of funds.

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

“The most glaring (issue) was the lack of proper (Prevention, Retention and Contingency) applications for recipients of services,” Martycz wrote in a memo asking the county to terminate its contract. “Additionally, it appears there were requests for reimbursement for items paid for by other funding sources.”

A DJFS staff member started “discovering discrepancies” in their annual review and brought them to her, Martycz said Wednesday. She said she then directed staff to do a complete audit, which was when they found the issues.

OIC Executive Director Mike Calabrese, whose nonprofit is now funding Sheltered Inc.’s shelter services on a per head and per family basis, said it monitors the shelter nonprofit closely, with OIC talking to intake and enrollment staff about each person and family to ensure that they meet both OIC’s and Sheltered Inc.’s standards.

“It appears that those seem to be the issues that brought about the issues with DJFS and Sheltered Inc.,” Calabrese said recently.

Calabrese said there is a “looming crisis” in homelessness in Clark County. Another shelter, operated by Homefull, began opening room by room this summer.

“We don’t know what the DJFS’ motivation (was) or their purpose in defunding the only homeless shelter that we had (at the time) in the county,” Calabrese said.

On Wednesday, Martycz said DJFS has had no communication with Sheltered Inc. since sending the findings of its investigation.

Beau Thompson, the assistant county prosecutor who represents the commission, said the county hasn’t heard from the nonprofit. He said they have not had any discussions specifically related to the memorandum of understanding.

“The letter made it pretty clear: we consider you to owe us this debt,” Thompson said.

Sheltered Inc. Director Elaina Bradley did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. She previously said the DJFS’ report that preceded the cancellation of funds contained inaccuracies.

“There is no lawsuit presently at issue, but Sheltered is prepared to fully defend against any claims brought, and to fully exonerate itself in court if need be,” Bradley said in June. “In the meantime, Sheltered remains devoted to its mission and will continue to serve the underprivileged and those facing homelessness in Clark County to the best of its ability.”

Sheltered Inc. gave DJFS all documentation asked of it and was “fully transparent,” Bradley said previously, but the report is “full of inaccurate and/or false statements and draws conclusions that lack any form of a factual basis.”

In the April report, Martycz detailed 50 reimbursements from DJFS to Sheltered Inc. from July 2021 to September 2022 that DJFS said did not qualify for PRC funding or asked for more money than the nonprofit appeared to need. In one case, the report states that, in September 2022, 63 Speedway gas cards totaling about $900 were purchased with 41 recipients listed, and two being eligible for PRC.

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