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Money, time running out for the New Hope Shelter

January 27, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The New Hope Shelter at 25 S. Potomac St. has been carried financially by a local woman and her husband since she came up with the idea to build a place to house the homeless eight years ago, but the money is running out, she said.

Violet Schmid, who works for a Gettysburg, Pa., real estate firm, said Monday that new sources of money have to be found quickly. If not, she said, she and her husband, Gerry, can no longer afford to pay the $800-a-month mortgage on the three-story former garment factory building that houses the shelter.

"This has been going on for eight years," Schmid said. "The shelter's board of directors own the building, but the mortgage is against our home. We're going to run out of money in a month or so. We're at the end of our rope."

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Schmid could not bring herself to say the building has to be sold.

"I can't just see eight years work go down the drain. We're going to try a little more," she said.

"I don't know who can help us get money," she said. "The only people who can help are the people with money. I honestly want to see this through, but help has to come from people in town. Gerry and I can't do it anymore."

Schmid said the shelter needs regular contributions.

William Krouse, a member of the shelter's board of directors, said Monday the balance in the shelter's bank account is down to about $3,600.

Borough Fire Marshal Jerry Hartman shut the shelter down in September because the fire alarm system wasn't working and for other code violations.

Even closed, the shelter costs more than $400 a month to operate, Krouse said. Heating the building with residents costs about $1,000 a month, he said.

Hartman's order put the shelter's 42 residents, including several families with small children, on the street during Tropical Storm Isabel. Shelter officials had to scramble to find emergency housing for them.

Hartman and Douglas Pyle, building inspector for the borough, said they have been making regular inspections of the shelter building since it was closed. Both have said shelter officials are making progress in bringing the structure up to code.

"Jerry Hartman has been extremely helpful to us," Schmid said. "He has a job to do and we've done what he's asked us to do."

No date has been set for reopening the shelter.

"Even if we did reopen, we only have enough money to keep it going for about a month," Schmid said.

Krouse said what is needed is a new nonprofit group to take over the mortgage and "get Violet off the hook."

The shelter operates a thrift shop in the rear of the building.

Last week, Frank Kocek, acting shelter director, said in a letter to the Waynesboro Borough Council the shelter has been notified it will receive a $272,000 federal Housing and Urban Development grant provided the operators can come up with a matching grant of $140,000.

Kocek asked the council for $47,000 of the $195,000 the borough is expecting this year in Community Development Block Grant funds. The council accepted Kocek's request without comment.

If the operators raise the matching funds and the HUD grant comes through, the money will be used to build 12 efficiency apartment units on the second and third floors of the South Potomac Street building, Schmid said.

The grant money can't be spent on the emergency shelter, which occupies the first floor, She said.

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