SIERRA VISTA — It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but the Good Neighbor Alliance board decided to halt shelter operations effective July 1 unless they can come with funds to keep the shelter sustainable.
“The shelter will be temporarily shut down,” GNA board vice president Mignonne Hollis said Friday. “We want to be able to reopen.”
The “strategic closure” is being put in place because of a lack of funds. Hollis said the overnight programs, excluding the grant funded program, requires $200,000 a year to be sustainable. She added the shelter program is completely run on donations.
Most of the donations are collected at GNA’s main fundraiser dinner, but this year’s dinner in April but was canceled due to the coronavirus.
“We hope (the closure) is a few months, but it depends on fundraising efforts,” Hollis said. “The board is really dedicated to keep the shelter open.”
Hollis said closing the shelter wasn’t a rash decision and was something the board was considering for over six months and before the COVID-19 closures. Because the state deemed homeless shelters as essential, they received funding to stay open and serve residents throughout the shutdown.
Hollis said throughout the shutdown the shelter’s 23 beds were full or near capacity throughout the two months. However, the state funding only lasted the length of the shutdown and GNA found themselves again in need of funds.
“The shelter budget is $200,000 for salaries and to operate the dorns,” Hollis said. “We don’t want to commit to stay open if we’re not sustainable.”
GNA is set to receive some funding from the Arizona Department of Housing in July, but Hollis said they only anticipate that money to last a couple of months. As of July, 1 the GNA staff will be reduced to two people, the administrative director and an office staff member.
Current resident members are working with staff to be relocated. Hollis said the staff are working to reconnect their residents with their families so they have somewhere to go when the shelter closes.
GNA’s PATH and My Home (rehoming), programs are still occurring since they are grant funded, Hollis said. Since the funding comes from a grant the hope is to continue them when it comes time to reapplying for the grant.
The next step for the board is to find monetary donations and community support so they can reopen the shelter. The board is hosting a virtual community meeting to brainstorm ideas for fundraising and see what community funds are available for them.
The virtual meeting will be Tuesday at 2 p.m. and can be accessed via https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/732800277. If the board can get the funding they need or a commitment for the money within the next couple of weeks, then they don’t think they will have to close.
“I’m praying we don’t have to shut down,” Hollis said. “We are working on a plan to reopen. We want to get back to our core mission.”