Thursday, August 29, 2013
Homeless shelter loses funding
By SUE WATSON
The New Hope Village homeless shelter on Highway 178 in Holly Springs has been notified it will not receive its annual Emergency Solution grant of $70,000 in September.
Funding runs out in August, according to executive director Marilyn Curry.
She said the board of directors will look to the community and for other ways of funding the shelter for the forthcoming year. The Emergency Solutions grant from the federal government was cut back by 35 percent due to sequestration, she said. Seven emergency shelters lost their funding as a result.
The shelter still has about $20,000 a year in support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency food and shelter program, Curry said. The city of Holly Springs has funded the shelter with an annual check of $5,000 and Marshall County contributed $2,500 last fiscal year, she said.
Other cash donations and church drives help bring in about $10,000 a year.
“The board of directors is making plans to survive 2013,” Curry said. “We are also looking for other grants.”
The shelter provides housing for about 175 people a year. The stay is 90 days. Seven counties are served out of the New Hope Village Shelter. There are no emergency shelters in the six other counties, Curry said. Criteria restrict who may receive short-term shelter. The person or family may stay in the shelter if they have been evicted, undergone a foreclosure on a home, have lost their home in a fire, or have been living in a car.
Currently five units are in use and four are vacant. Both single and family units are available. There are two families and three singles living at the shelter now.
Curry said the village can try to limit costs. If it were fully occupied, the village could not pay its utility bills, she said.
People with mental illnesses or drug and alcohol problems are referred to other agencies. The Salvation Army in Tupelo serves homeless people and victims of domestic violence and abused youth are served in shelters in DeSoto County.
Northeast Community Services and Catholic Social Services also provide assistance to the shelter.
The grant that was lost provided 60 percent of the cost of operation and maintenance, Curry said.
The board of directors and executive director said they were caught off guard.
“We didn’t look to not be funded by the government, but we are,” Curry said.
Board director John Boyuka said the board will ask the community to respond.
“That’s why we are getting it in the paper,” he said. “The board will try to get a plan to get the community involved to save it.”
The village serves additional individuals and families – providing food, clothing, furniture, household accessories and other household items.
About 200 families a month come to the shelter for food. That totals about 2,400 families a year. This does not include families served by a once-a-month truck load of food from the Memphis Food Shelter that is distributed at the Multi-Purpose Building.
Curry said the number of individuals served in the food pantry equals about the same number who come to the clothes closet.
Once the weather cools off and winter approaches, Boyuka said the shelter will be full and will stay that way all winter. About 15-20 children lived at the shelter during the Christmas holiday last year, he said.
Curry said the Department of Human Services in the surrounding counties refer homeless people to the New Hope Village shelter.
The elderly, people with mental health problems and veterans are not served at the village shelter.
New Hope Village opened in 1999 and once was the old Holly Springs Motel.
Volunteers have donated services and materials to keep the units habitable and college students have come from other states to help repair units during spring break.
Boyuka and Curry said people have a misconception of why people become homeless. They believe the residents are lazy and choose not to work, or that they are mentally ill or alcohol- and drug-addicted, they said.
The truth is that many of those who receive temporary housing find a job, get an apartment, and even buy their own homes.
“I had a girl walking in the street who came here and asked for a place to stay,” said Curry. “She had a daughter going to high school. She did get a job, got an apartment and now has a new house. Her daughter is in college.
“Lots of clients get back on their feet. A couple of guys got two jobs, then got an apartment and one is now working in a clothing store in Holly Springs.”
Common misconceptions held by the public include that the homeless are on drugs or alcohol or have some type of mental illness, Curry said.
“I think when people hear homeless, that’s what they think,” she said.
The success stories far outweigh the failures, according to Curry.
Boyuka said when the shelter first opened it had a bad reputation. People believed the money was not being used for the homeless. Curry said she came on in 2006. A financial system was put in place and the shelter has an accountant. The board of directors controls the expenditures.
All of the units are adopted and sent a support check of $200 a year. Holiday donations, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas, help bring in both cash donations and food to stock the pantry.
Boyuka said many groups have helped – churches and clubs, grocery stores and the like, as well as individuals.
Anyone who wants to assist the shelter as a volunteer carpenter, plumber or electrician, or to help with a fund-raiser or who wants to donate food and clothing and other useful items is asked to contact Curry at 662-252-4688 or Boyuka at 901-592-7777.
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