Salvation Army asks city for $33,000 to fund overflow shelter for women and children
December 18, 2008
Homelessness is up across the nation. Anyone surprised? The U.S. Conference of Mayors delivered the news last Friday that 19 of 25 major cities surveyed reported an average increase of 12 percent more homeless people this year than last year.
That reverses a trend that saw homelessness decrease by 30 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
"Those interviewed for the conference report reinforce the view that the recession coupled with the home foreclosure crisis is causing increased homelessness," said Nan Roman, president of the Washington, D.C.-based alliance.
Capt. Terry Wood of the Salvation Army in Hartford is expecting an increase in the city's homeless as well, which is why he approached the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to fund an overflow shelter for women and children at the Salvation Army's Marshall House on Marshall Street.
Wood said the Salvation Army has put up homeless women and children in a variety of local motels for the past several winters, but that this year they can house them more economically in Marshall House if they can get $66,000 to pay for staffing and other expenses.
"Now that we know there's an increased need, we made a petition to the Hartford Foundation," said Wood.
The Foundation, which was established in 1925 to serve Hartford and 29 towns in the region, responded with a $33,000 grant, covering half the needed funds. Donna Jolly, vice-president for public relations, said the Foundation gave $26 million to area nonprofits last year and will do the same the next two years, despite the economic crisis.
"Nonprofits can count on us when many other sources are dwindling," said Jolly.
Of course, that leaves a balance of $33,000, which the Foundation and the Salvation Army are looking to the City of Hartford to provide. The City Council debated the issue last week, with Councilman Larry Deutsch pushing for allocating the funds immediately. Deutsch said the grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving was predicated on a matching grant from the city.
As it turned out, that was wrong — the Hartford Foundation is giving the money regardless of what the city does — but to Councilman Luis Cotto, a Working Parties member like Deutsch, it hardly mattered.
"As a city, we shouldn't do something just because we have to," Cotto told the Advocate. "When it comes to this it should be because it's the best thing to do."
But the City Council already allocated $150,000 to combat homelessness, said Councilman Matt Ritter, and considering Hartford is facing an $8 million deficit, Ritter supported Councilman Jim Boucher's suggestion that the council try to extract the $33,000 from other sources, like state or federal programs.
"It's not like we're starting from scratch," said Ritter. "We're trying to sort through a myriad of options and programs and pick the right place to find the funds."
If the City Council's effort to find money elsewhere fails after 30 days, Ritter said the council will turn to city funds.