Two homeless shelter providers seek additional funding for winter

Two non-profit agencies that provide shelter services for homeless men, women, and children in Tacoma and Pierce County have asked the City of Tacoma for additional funding to ramp up its services during late-fall and winter.
Representatives from Martin Luther King Housing Development Association (MLKHDA), Associated Ministries, and the City’s human rights and human services department made a pitch to City Council Tuesday for $62,440 to increase the hours of operation at one shelter, and the number of motel vouchers issued to homeless families when temperatures plunge below freezing.
MLKHDA executive director Felix Flannigan told councilmembers his agency operates a year-round homeless shelter between 7pm and 7am. But inclement weather combined with nearby Nativity House closing at 4pm has forced his agency to open its doors three hours earlier. It was a decision he made this week without knowing if funds would be available.
“We made the decision as a good faith leap,” said Flannigan, who seeks $52,440 to keep the doors open.
Associated Ministries executive director David Alger said his agency issues vouchers for homeless families during severe weather alerts. Last year, the organization handed out vouchers on 45 nights, at a cost of $27,015. Alger is seeking $10,000 from the city. He has made the same request to Pierce County Council.
According to Debbie Bergthold with the City’s human rights and human services department, a contingency fund exists for similar emergencies. Annually, the city places $112,375 into the fund. Currently, $37,375 remain in the fund. On Jan. 1, 2008, $112,375 will be deposited into the fund. The city could use the balance of existing funds, and $25,065 from 2008 funds to fulfill both requests.
City Council will vote on the issue Dec. 18.