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Published: Friday, 2/15/2013

St. Paul’s Center says some homeless will have no refuge due to lack of funding

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo’s homeless will have to search elsewhere for overnight shelter for the rest of the winter.

Because of a lack of funding, St. Paul’s Community Center will have to discontinue its “winter crisis” emergency shelter program on Sunday, Marcia Langenderfer, executive director of the center, announced Wednesday.

“That’s it. That’s all we have,” Ms. Langenderfer said. “We will only be able to continue operating the program for a couple ... more days.”

About $13,000 would be needed to keep the overnight shelter program operating though the end of February, she said. It costs about $880 per day to operate the program, Ms. Langenderfer said.

In past years, the overnight shelter program received a total of $39,000 from the Lucas County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board, United Way of Greater Toledo, and the Toledo Community Foundation, in addition to other donations from individuals, churches, and businesses, allowing it to operate from mid-December until mid-March, Ms. Langenderfer said.

Overall funding from the social services agencies for this year was reduced by $15,000, Mr. Langenderfer said.

More than 900 people stayed overnight at the shelter on 13th Street in the month of January, far outpacing previous winter demands, Ms. Langenderfer said. February’s numbers also appear to be higher than normal, she added. Past numbers were not available on Wednesday.

This year’s program began Jan. 1. Officials initially speculated that there would be only enough money to keep the overnight shelter operating for 47 days.

Officials were hoping to raise additional funding through donations that would have enabled them to extend the length of the program, but those contributions never materialized, Ms. Langenderfer said

Ideally, the center would have liked to provide overnight shelter through mid-March, which can still include very cold nights, she said.

“Our mission is to try and save lives,” Ms. Langenderfer said. “Many of the people who come here are without proper shoes or clothing. There’s no other place that helps them because they are mentally ill or chronically homeless.”

The “winter crisis” program provides overnight shelter for up to 50 people on a first-come, first-serve basis. If the need is higher, the center tries to accommodate as many more people as it can. Visitors sleep on cots set up nightly in the lunchroom.

The crisis program allows people to begin entering the center at 7 p.m. They are served soup and a sandwich and given access to shower facilities. In the morning they get a light breakfast before they leave.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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