FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For almost 20 years, Shepherd’s House has provided transitional housing for homeless military veterans in Fort Wayne. They may be closing their doors after being rejected for a federal grant they’ve been receiving for years.
Shepherd’s house was denied a grant worth about $496,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That grant is about 80 percent of their $622,000 yearly budget.
They’ve been getting this grant through the VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program since 2009. So they were shocked when they were rejected.
The VA recently made changes to their grant program that made it performance-based and more competitive. Shepherd’s house assumed they’d be fine since they go above and beyond the typical transitional housing program by providing clinical services, but they didn’t make the cut.
So, Shepherd’s House has three choices going forward. They can reach out to the community for help, massively scale back their services, or close it’s doors. They believe the community will help them raise the money. They will be reaching out to businesses, churches, congressman and individuals to make up for the lost money.
“I would be hopeful that the people in our community would rise up to help veterans as they should,” said Manager Tracey Barr. “Our veterans deserve to be taken care of and that’s why I’m so optimistic that we would not shut our doors, that we would find a way and that people would help us find a way to keep us open.”
Scaling back costs would be their second option.
“Just like anyone with a budget, you have to work within your means so if the money doesn’t come through like we hope we will certainly have to sit down and evaluate what services we offer and maybe develop partnerships with other individuals and try to make those things happen for our veterans, but we don’t want anything to be shortchanged to our veterans,” Barr continued.
U.S. Congressman Jim Banks has written a letter to the VA saying Shepherd’s House deserves a clear explanation of why they were rejected.
“At the end of the day we can’t afford to lose programs like these because the important work that they do is critical to support our area homeless veterans, give them transitional programs that can get them back on their feet and get them back into the work place and to a place where they can afford housing and afford to take care of themselves,” he said.
The Shepherd’s House staff said the VA has promised them an official notice of why they were rejected. They’re not sure when they’ll be receiving it.