Warwick, RI – RI Family Shelter, keeping families safe and together while they seek permanent homes for more than 25 years, closed its doors July 5 when it became clear to Executive Director Patti Macreading that the charity was running out of funds.
In an effort to suspend services responsibly, Macreading shuttered the program as funding for daily operations at the emergency family shelter began to run out. The funds, from donations, grants and federal programs, aren’t increasing as quickly as every-day costs, she said.
“It’s been pretty obvious the past few weeks,” Macreading said. She said the shelter needs at least another $100,000, though that number is likely to change as she begins a comprehensive re-assessment of the operation’s funding and costs. That effort, she said, will be aimed at opening the doors to the shelter again.
The charity’s subsidized apartment housing, about eight apartments, is still running, thankfully, said Jim Ryczek, executive director for RI Coalition for the Homeless, an association of homeless shelter and service providers.
Two weeks ago, Macreading came to Ryczek’s office for a second opinion on RI Family Shelter’s financial condition.
“We kind of confirmed what they were thinking,” Ryczek said.
After that, Macreading each said, the focus was on winding down the program responsibly, making sure the seven families in their care were moved to safe spots. The families were either placed with other shelters, moved in with family members or, in a few lucky cases, were placed in new permanent homes.
As of this week, all the families are now safely settled.
“We were able to place all the families within the week,” Macreading said.
Also, Macreading said, the shelter’s 11 employees, including three full-timers, are all paid up to the closing date.
The shelter has aided more than 150 men, women and children with 24-hour, 7-days a week services each year.
For the time being, families that otherwise would’ve sought out Family Shelter RI should call the 211 system to get on a waiting list, or visit RIhomeless.org and contact a shelter from the Shelter Guide.
Now, the focus switches to figuring how to get the doors open again.
“That’s an open question,” Ryczek said.
Macreading hopes to find enough funding through new grants, bigger grant awards from grants they’ve already won, and a second look at belt tightening.
“Our Board of Directors is examining all possible options for re-establishing services for the emergency family shelter program. We are working with the state Office of Housing and Community Development, Rhode Island Housing, The City of Warwick and Mayor Avedisian, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless and other social service agencies in the area to proactively examine all possible options to ensure families experiencing homelessness in our state are adequately served,” Macreading said in a press release Thursday.
She said as the primary administrator wearing the HR director, finance and development (finding and securing new funding sources), Macreading hasn’t spent as much time on development as a larger non-profit organization would be able to.
That’s part of the reason Ryczek said he’ll likely advise Macreading to partner with a larger non-profit that can spare the resources to search for enough funding.
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