Via News & Record, 04/23/2012:
“Alex Santos didn’t expect to be homeless before he was 30. Then, in the past few years, the 28-year-old lost his job, his wife and his home all in a row — the pillars of his life falling like dominoes.
He’s one of hundreds who have found help at the Interactive Resource Center, a homeless day shelter in downtown Greensboro partially funded by Guilford County.
But under a suggested $4.1 million in cuts to the county’s Human Services budget, Guilford would end funding for the center…”
I contacted IRC director Liz Seymour to ask what percentage of the center’s funding comes from the County, and how losing funding will affect the day center. Here’s Liz’s response:
The article was not entirely accurate–the County isn’t cutting existing funding, but it is cutting a funding request out of the proposed budget. There are some real and important issues at stake and we would love to have your help and support. The Commissioners will hold a series of budget hearings starting tonight and finishing with a county-wide hearing on Thursday, May 3 at 5:30 at the Commissioners Meeting Room in the Old Courthouse. It’s not just about the IRC, it’s all the groups out there who are helping more and more people with less and less support.
Our total budget is about $400,000 of which roughly half comes from individual gifts; the rest is largely from foundations, churches and a little bit from civic groups and businesses. (And honestly, although our budget is $400,000 we’re operating on an austerity budget that comes in a lot closer to $300,000–not sustainable, but necessary at the moment).
In 2009 the County allocated $275,000 for renovation of the building we are now in but we have never received any operating funds from the County. We put in a request last year through the CBO (Community Based Organization) process and were denied; we have applied again this year as a CBO with a request for $25,000 but once again are not in the budget. We do not receive regular funding from the City either, though this year we will be eligible to apply for a slice of Community Development Block Grant money, a federal pass-through that the City administers (it’s worth noting that the CDBG is a very small pie and everyone’s slice comes out pretty thin)
Because government funding at every level (local, state and federal) is in such jeopardy these days we have not built our long-range strategy around it. Our greatest growth at the moment is in individual gifts–this year fully half of our giving has come from first-time donors, which indicates to me that when people understand what we are doing they want to support it. The rule of thumb for philanthropy is that 70-80 percent of giving comes from individual donors; at the moment for us it’s a little under 50 percent. One of our biggest needs is simply to get the word out!
That said, anything we can do to persuade the County Commissioners to allocate funds to the IRC would be huge. At the most practical level the funds we have requested would pay for almost a month of operations. On a civic level Paul Gibson is absolutely right: ‘They’re doing the work the county’s not doing.’ And we’re saving the entire county a lot of money too…
>> Have a look at Guilford County’s Human Services FY 2012-2013 Recommended Budget Info here. Dates of budget meetings, work sessions and the public hearing; as well as links to all parts of the recommended budget, here.
>> Learn more about the great work that the Interactive Resource Center is doing to help the homeless! Make a donation online. Connect with the IRC on Facebook and Twitter. And help spread the word! The IRC provides much-needed services to people who are homeless, formerly homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Get involved!