Pa. homeless shelter faces money crunch

February 06, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - So far no one has been turned away from the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless despite a budget deficit that's forcing the shelter to cut the hours of the people who run it, shelter officials said.

The deficit is being caused by a drop in donations to the shelter. The $30,000 shortfall comes out of an annual budget of $166,000.

Before the crunch, donations ran close to $70,000 a year, said Kathy Auman, shelter coordinater. Hours for four residential staffers have been reduced from 40 hours a week to 30, she said. Two administrative staffers also work at the shelter.


"This is a real challenge for us because the shelter runs 24 hours a day," Auman said.

The shelter at 223 S. Main St., Chambersburg, can house up to 24 people at one time. There were about 20 residents in the facility during the weekend, she said.

While a few single men are welcome, most residents are families with children, she said. "We had 16 children in here with their families during the Christmas holidays,'' Auman said.

Loss of jobs, illness, plain bad luck can bring families to the shelter, she said.

Franklin County families can stay up to 30 days. During that time staff professionals help them find permanent, low-cost housing, help with medical problems and offer referral and counseling services, Auman said. Children attend school from the shelter, she said.

The shelter, an arm of the South Central Community Action program, is governed by a local coalition whose members represent area churches, business, veterans groups and Franklin County officials.

The shelter is supported by donations from the Franklin County Commissioners, United Way, veterans groups, civic and other organizations, private donations and state and federal grants, Auman said.

A big chunk of its operating budget come from donations from area churches, many of which put shelter donations in their annual budgets.

Auman said the area's unstable economy and loss of jobs are making donors wary about maintaining their level of donations. "They just can't give as much," she said.

Auman said coalition members are worried that the cuts in staff hours will affect service and fund-raising efforts.

"We're hoping that donations will pick up," Auman said.

Anyone wishing to help can call Auman at the shelter at 1-717-267-3669.

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