Wilmington’s Ministry of Caring is cutting three programs that provide housing to homeless people and AIDS patients because of federal funding cuts.
The cuts are a result of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development slashing $685,991 from the ministry’s $10 million budget.
“Without our services, these people are going to end up back on the streets and perhaps dead,” said Priscilla Rakestraw, deputy director of development at the ministry, on Tuesday.
One woman, she said, has been living at one of the ministry’s facilities for almost a decade. She’s on dialysis and will not be able to get those medical services later this year when her bed is removed due to the funding cuts.
It’s the second year in the row that the Wilmington charity has had its allocation cut. Last year, its funding was cut by $185,000.
The ministry had $11.1 million in revenue in 2020, the agency’s 2020 annual report said.
Brother Ronald Giannone, the executive director of the ministry, said in an email to supporters that eight beds at the House of Joseph II, which houses people living with HIV/AIDS, will be removed June 30.
That’s half of the building’s beds. The other eight beds are funded through a different federal grant.
Breaking the news to the eight residents who would be leaving was extremely difficult, and a couple had serious mental breakdowns, said Ashley Edwards, a nurse at the House of Joseph II.
“We have no choice except to notify our residents that we will cease to provide them housing,” Giannone said in the email. “This is a tragic and sad moment for the Ministry of Caring and the people we serve.”
All 24 beds that the ministry has at St. Francis Transitional Housing for women, children and infants, will also be discontinued June 30.
Mary Mother of Hope House Permanent Housing program, which houses nine single women, will end Nov. 30, the note said.
“It’s disgraceful to cut a program that helps people in so many ways,” said John Bates, deputy director of programs at the ministry.
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He said Delaware’s Continuum of Care, which oversees the allocations from the federal government and uses a rubric to grade programs, indicated that the cuts were partly a result of a low score for supportive services.
Bates also said at the federal level, there’s been a push for rapid rehousing, which would essentially pay for a 3-month, 6-month or 9-month residency period for an individual the ministry is helping.
But rapid rehousing definitely does not work for everyone, he said.
If someone is homeless for years, gets a six6-month residency, and then is booted out of the facility, that person is going to end up in the same place they started: homeless.
Gianonne said in his email that there’s no chance of reversing the department’s decision.
“It would be unwise for us to believe that we could carry these programs while losing HUD funds of $685,991,” he said. “This is a continuing annual loss and therefore for us to use other sources it would put a burden on our finances.”
Ministry of Caring services
In addition to providing housing, the non-profit, created in 1977, runs food halls, emergency shelters, child care services and free dental and medical clinics in the city.
Last year, the ministry housed 865 homeless people and served 115,396 free meals to individuals in need.
With a budget of more than $10 million, the ministry’s efforts are funded by local contributions and government grants.
Its most recent addition was Bethany House II in 2014, which is a long-term housing facility for women with disabilities.
The ministry will have a press conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the House of Joseph II at 9 West 18th in Wilmington.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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