Shelter facing possible closure holds public meeting

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A long-time resource for homeless people and those trying to escape domestic violence in Northern Sharp County might may soon due to lack of funding.

The Spring River Adult and Children's Services Shelter has been open for about 20 years.

It serves all of Northern Sharp County, including Hardy, Highland, Ash Flat, and Cherokee Village.

"It is essentially a shelter that has a dual purpose," SRACS Board Member Ed Wiles said.  "One is to work with victims of domestic violence, which is a big problem and is a problem in all areas. And also we do serve people who are homeless occasionally."

Wiles said they have seen increased costs and decreases in funding, which may leave them no choice but to close.

"That really hurts when you have fixed expenses but not fixed income," Wiles said.

The shelter gets one $15,000 grant from the state each year, but the bulk of their funding comes from private donations and sales at the non-profit's thrift store in Highland.

That revenue is not steady, though.

"When I came on board a few years ago I think the thrift store was earning about $4,000 or better a month, which is a pretty good amount of money," Wiles said. "But over the years we've had more stores going in, thrift stores. At times it comes back up and is pretty good and level and then it goes back down and sometimes it's down for a long time."

So the organization scheduled a public input meeting for Tuesday night to find out if residents will commit to helping them stay open.

"This is not mine, it's not the board's, it's not Reverend Morris's or the church's or anything, it belongs to the people and if they want to continue these services we're going to have to have some help and support," Wiles said. "Some of that is probably our fault, maybe we haven't sought that out enough, but that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to encourage people to get more involved, maybe get some new ideas, hopefully come up with some new ideas for funding, and maybe some new people could get involved in the operation of it."

The facility currently has ten beds, and Wiles said there has been times when that is completely full.

Wiles said while domestic violence and homelessness aren't easy or attractive things to talk about, they are present in their community and something that needs to be taken care of.

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