Sheltered Inc. at risk of closing all shelters if funding not resolved

The nonprofit asked Clark County commissioners for help as it faces a deficit of about $300K.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A Springfield nonprofit that provides services for those experiencing homelessness said it would close all its emergency shelters if it does not receive additional funding, and it will reduce hours at one more shelter in the meantime.

Sheltered Inc. reduced the hours at its men’s shelter from 24 hours to 12 late last month, and on Friday it will do the same at its family and single women’s shelter, executive director Elaina Bradley said. While asking Clark County commissioners Wednesday for emergency assistance, she said the nonprofit has a deficit of around $300,000 for emergency shelter services.

County commissioners asked what the nonprofit needed and, while they did not commit to providing assistance, commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said they would consider a formal request.

As of Tuesday night, the shelters were housing 59 individuals, Bradley said. The area is also seeing an uptick in individuals living on the street or in unsafe housing conditions, she said.

“We’re talking about people that have chronic health conditions, disabilities; they’re in wheelchairs,” Bradley said. “They have no other place to go.”

Bradley said Sheltered Inc. is working with partners — including the Nehemiah Foundation, Springfield City Schools and local churches — to ensure that, if the shelters are shut down, those forced to live on the streets or in other dangerous housing can obtain hygiene bags and sunscreen, plus transportation to other areas that have single men and family shelters.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The city of Springfield has a $1.34 million agreement and the county a $350,000 deal with Dayton-based homelessness shelter nonprofit Homefull to provide emergency shelter and case management for families in Clark County. The county’s agreement with Homefull is set to expire in July.

Sheltered Inc. will lose funding from OIC — which has supported the nonprofit on a per-head and per-family basis since July last year — when American Rescue Plan Act dollars run out in June. The nonprofit has applied for federal and state funds, but these would not arrive in time for the impending July closure.

“We have been able to maintain our mission and services until now largely due to a collaboration with Opportunities for Individual Change (OIC),” Bradley said in a release. “Unfortunately, through no fault of Sheltered Inc. or OIC, that grant funding has been ended by the state of Ohio. We are left with no other option but to reduce the hours of emergency shelter operations and reduce staff.”

Sheltered Inc. has provided services to those experiencing homelessness for 34 years, board member Charlie Bush told commissioners. He served as the nonprofit’s executive director when it was called the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

In February last year, Clark County terminated a portion of a $700,000 contract — of which about $495,000 was reimbursed — with Sheltered Inc., which officials said was due to “multiple violations” in regards to the reimbursement of funds found following a review.

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.

Sheltered Inc. disputed the allegations, and the county entered into an agreement with the Ohio Attorney General in November 2023 to collect money it said is owed by Sheltered Inc., requiring the nonprofit to pay back more than $500,000.

According to Sheltered Inc.’s release, the issue was sent back to Clark County by the attorney general last month, but the county has not scheduled any meetings or otherwise made “any attempts to address the purported issues and their resolution.”

The nonprofit also received its usual funding from the city recently, after the city found no issues with management of funds.

From 2020 to 2022, Bradley said the area saw more than 3,000 people requiring emergency shelter services. In 2023 there were 558, with 95 being children. So far in 2024, she said there have been 269 people.

Bradley said that hours at both shelters will be 8 p.m. to 8 a.m starting Friday until July when they either close or the nonprofit receives more funds. She said if there are no changes, 10 employees will be laid off effective July 1. This number could increase.

The cost to fund the emergency shelters in a year is around $1.3 million, Bradley told commissioners.

Bradley also asked for community support to help keep the shelters open. She said in 2021, a homelessness crisis was declared and Springfield has continued to see large numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

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