Thursday, November 17, 2016

Funding Crisis

Due to a State budget deficit, earmark funding in line item 7004-0102 designated for Homeless Individuals Assistance is on hold.  This includes $200,000 designated for Craig’s Doors.  For the past three years, Craig’s Doors has used this funding to operate Craig’s Place, Amherst’s emergency homeless shelter.  The governor’s administration will reach a decision by December 15, 2016; until then, it is uncertain what will happen. There are three options: 1.) We receive all of our funding. 2.) We take a percentage cut, which may be great or small. 3.) We lose all of our funding.

In the event that funding is not restored, Craig’s Place may have to close during the coldest and most dangerous months of winter.  Without Craig’s Place, many individuals will have to sleep outside, and some of them will die.
 “We are doing everything we can to keep the shelter open.” Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors Executive Director said. 
In addition to communications with the legislature and state, Craig’s Doors is seeking alternative funding sources and cutting expenses.
Today, we are making an appeal to the Hampshire County community: help us keep our doors open. Help us in our mission to support those who are at their most vulnerable. Whether you are able to donate time, money, or material goods, your contribution to our shelter directly translates into another day of operation, another day of saving lives. Each day is significant.  In order to remain an accessible resource, we need the support of our community. Your partnership is essential to the furthering of our goal to create housing for those in need.

The mission of Craig's Place is to provide safe, caring shelter for people experiencing homelessness.  They are a seasonal 22 bed Emergency Shelter and serve between 150 and 200 individuals each year.  On Tuesday, November 1st, just five hours before the shelter was scheduled to open, Rebekah Wilder received notice that the funding was uncertain.  By this time, the supplies were all purchased, staff hired and trained, and the guests waiting in town for the doors to open.
That is the reality facing each guest; as they ask themselves “Will I make it through another night?”.
Craig’s Place has a behavior-based admissions policy: all who show respect for the safety and well-being of our guests, volunteers, and staff are welcome. Its existence allows for some of the most vulnerable members of the community—those with ongoing substance use issues, mental health issues, and physical disabilities—to exercise basic human rights to shelter, safety, and respect. This means that even if an individual is under the influence they will have a place to stay for the night. Craig’s Place is the only behavior based shelter in Hampshire County, and only one of two in all of Western Mass.  Many of our guests seek refuge with us, having no other options left to them. 

On an average night, fifty-two percent of shelter guests struggle with mental health issues, while another thirty-six percent have substance use issues. Furthermore, twenty-six percent of people struggle with both, making them some of the most vulnerable guests at the shelter. These are individuals who are the most likely to die if they are left outside in the cold. 

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