The Open Door has closed its doors, at least for the time being, to those seeking temporary shelter.
According to Mickie Davies, who operates the local homeless shelter, which is located at 136 W. Third St., the Open Door is not currently able to offer emergency housing to the homeless because it has no funds to pay its overnight staff.
This winter, the Open Door was hit by a large expense when two of its heating units went out.
The units couldn’t be patched. They had to be replaced. According to Davies, she approached the local ministerial alliance for help, but there was only so much the alliance could do.
“They’re trying to help us,” she said. “(It’s) kind of hard — not a lot of money out there anymore.”
The shelter can’t house people without heating anymore than it can house people without a staff. The heating units were replaced, but the funds for the staff have not materialized.
The shelter received a grant in the middle of the year last year, according to Davies, but it wasn’t enough to cover everything the shelter needed. The shelter also missed out on several grants it applied for.
“We weren’t the only ones,” she said.
According to Sarah Talley, who writes grants for the Open Door, said the shelter confirmed the shelter had not received several grants from the state that it normally receives and which had kept it sustained in the past.
The shelter has begun to solicit donations from the public for help re-opening its doors to those in need, while it continues to work to establish a level of sustainability through grants.
“If anybody has a place in their heart to make a special donation to us, we could use that at this time and it would be very meaningful,” Talley said. “We basically are staffing with people that are not being paid at this time and we don’t want to continue with that. We want to bring our paid staff back and we want to continue the services that we offered.”
According to Talley, there is staff present during the day to take donations. All donations are welcome, she said. Donors can come ring the doorbell.
“Anyone that wants to donate, they can donate or they can send a check or they can just go to the door and there will be someone there to collect,” she said. “We take all donations and we have been supported by the community all along and we want to thank those people (who donate) and let them know we’re still operational. And its just a low spot that we’re going to come out of.”
According to Davies, the shelter has had to turn away between four and six people a day for the past few weeks since it closed.
“Manhattan is full right now from all of our folks and the Topeka’s getting full,” she said. “I’ve been sending people to Salina.”
In past years, Davies said, Junction City has taken overflow from Manhattan and vice versa.
She wants this to stop. She wants the shelter to be able to start helping the community again.
“It really hurts to turn people away,” Davies said. “It really does.”