Since 1995, Interfaith Hospitality Network/Schneider House of Hope has provided temporary shelter and other services to displaced children and their families in Greene County. While the need for such services is ever present, it is the unpleasant responsibility of the IHN Board of Directors to let our member churches, congregations, organizations, businesses and other shelter friends know of the difficult financial realities that we now face.
Unless IHN is able to increase its revenues to cover its tight operating budget, there is a real prospect that the House of Hope may be forced to cut back on its homeless shelter services in early 2018. Most of our expenses are fixed (e.g., food, hygiene, utilities, essential maintenance, office supplies, insurance) with staffing labor being the predominant discretionary expense.
This is all the more problematic because we are operating close to “bare minimum” staffing and salary levels as it now stands. We already rely heavily on volunteer support (e.g., overnight hosting and dinners) to minimize the paid staffing needed with only three full-time and two part-time employees. Hence, if staffing positions or hours are reduced, we would need to rely on more volunteers to fill in any reduced staffing gaps since we must meet state and county requirements for oversight, reporting, safety, and security.
We began 2017 with a projected budget shortfall for the year of about $60,000. Principally due to a few generous donations from individuals and some expense belt-tightening, we reduced that shortfall somewhat but anticipate a similar funding problem in 2018. IHN now receives its operating budget from the following primary sources (note: percentages shown are rounded projections):
– Individual, organizational, and other donations, including the Share the Love and the Labor of Love matching challenges (50 percent)
– Fundraising events such as the Golf Marathon, holiday cookie jar sales, Empty Bowl, and 5k Run/Walk, many of which are volunteer time-intensive to plan, administer, and carry out (35 percent)
– Church-sponsored donations (15 percent)
We do receive some grants. However, grants usually involve stipulations that monies be used for capital improvements or specific equipment purchases (bed frames, washer, dryer). Our existing grants are not a funding source for operating expenses, which we currently need.
The board has actively pursued new funding initiatives such as our recent application and approval for IHN to be an eligible charity in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC, 5-digit code 65597) and a request to United Way. However, the CFC initiative will take time to bear fruit and our immediate time window is narrow. Moreover, we will seek advice and assistance from Greene County and Xenia city officials since reducing our homeless shelter operations would have an adverse impact on the local community.
The good news is that there is a solution and a reason for hope. We need to find more business, organizational, and individual sponsors willing to provide continuing (monthly, quarterly) donations to help sustain the House of Hope’s operations. In light of our collective IHN congregations’ roles in local communities and their levels of access and influence, church members are often in a unique position to recruit additional sponsors. Each $5,000 donation sustains our shelter’s operating expenses for one week.
We ask for community-wide help! Please do what you can to continue the House of Hope’s legacy into the future.
Sue Mortsolf is the board president of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greene County, Inc. IHN/Schneider House of Hope is located at 124 South Detroit Street in Xenia.