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Mi Casa On A Tight Budget

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

August 19, 2009

Three weeks ago, things for Mi Casa looked bleak.

According to the city, the organization recently had only enough money left for three weeks of payroll, faced a possible $800,000 annual operating deficit, and was working hard to get money from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

After a couple weeks of not returning phone calls, the organization got in touch Tuesday. On Wednesday, its board chairman says Mi Casa is scraping by and dipping into its rainy day fund -- but it's not running the risk of closing up shop.

"Pretty much like every other non-profit and most corporations, we are suffering during these economic times," board chairman Jose Martinez said today. "We've had reduced funding from the city and from the state as well as all of our other foundations. Although they've committed to give us funding, they're holding on as long as possible."

"I strongly believe we're going to make it through this," Martinez said.

Multiple efforts to reach Jorge Rivera, the organization's executive director, were unsuccessful.

Mi Casa, located on Park Street, offers youth and family services. Below is the e-mail from Miguel Matos, the city's grant manager, to Chief of Staff Matt Hennessy that got Cityline curious.

Provided the e-mail, city spokeswoman Sarah Barr said this:

"Obviously, the city is interested in the vitality and well-being of Mi Casa and we want to see the core services continue for the residents of Hartford."


From: Matos, Miguel

Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:34 PM

To: Hennessy, Matthew J.

Cc: Panagore, David B.; Mcgovern, Mark; Lopez, Laura M.; Loranger, Susan; Blint, Shelia E.; enidrey@hartford.gov


Importance: High


Per your voice mail request of this morning, I have looked into the financial situation at Mi

Casa and have discovered, based on phone conversations with Mi Casa, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (HFPG) and Enid Rey, the following:

1. Per Luis Agrelot, Deputy Director, Mi Casa should be able to meet payroll for the next three (3) weeks or so.

2. Conversations with Amy Studwell at HFPG confirmed that Mi Casa is seeking financial assistance thru the HFPG Transitional Operating Support program and Mi Casa has submitted current financial statements, audits and other information that should allow HFPG to assess the entire financial condition of Mi Casa.

3. A meeting between HFPG and Mi Casa leadership is scheduled for August 5th. HFPG is seeking answers to questions related to the financial materials submitted by Mi Casa. HFPG shared that they are concerned about Mi Casa's financial health based on materials submitted.

4. Conversations with Enid Rey; who has also spoken to HFPG, revealed that (subject to further discovery and analysis by HFPG) that Mi Casa may be facing an annual operating deficit in the $800k range. Speculation is that Mi Casa may need a quick infusion of working capital that may approximate $150k; which allows a three (3) month carry based on estimated and hearsay cash flow needs of approximately $50k per month.

5. We have also learned that HFPG may consider assisting Mi Casa with approximately $75k working capital injection to tie them over for a short term period of about a three (3) to six (6) months. Based on the alleged cash flow needs of $50k per month, the HFPG assistance may render Mi Casa with an estimated monthly cash flow shortfall of approximately $37.5k if the assistance is spread over six (6) months. We understand, at this early stage, that HFPG may condition their temporary funding assistance ($75k)with the requirement of a forensic audit; the term and depth of which is still unknown, among other conditions.

Matt, at this time we recommend that we wait for the dance between HFPG and Mi Casa to take its course. Amy Studwell (HFPG) has agreed to share the materials that come out of meetings and further discovery to assist us with understanding the depth of Mi Casa's financial woes.

As it relates to CDBG, the City has approved them for $15.5k to support the after school program and we are now in the contract stage. I understand that Enid may also have some pending commitments thru OYS.

I will stay in touch with HFPG, Mi Casa and Enid over the next couple of weeks and advise you as necessary. More to come.



Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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