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Freedom House closure worries area non-profits

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- For the last three decades, men women and children who are down on their luck have had a place to get help in Richmond.

However, money problems are forcing the Freedom House to close its doors. And with that closure, homeless men and women in Richmond will soon have one less place to turn to for help.

The news of Freedom House's closure has other Central Virginia non-profits worried.

“For this to go under is a huge message for all non-profits, including ours,” Commonwealth Catholic Charities' Graham Sellors said. “It was a huge shock.”

Catholic Charities runs the homeless point of entry at Freedom House’s Conrad Center in the city. Sellors said after April 30 they might need to find a new home themselves.

“We will offer our service no matter what wherever we have to be it will be in a central location,” Sellors said.

Freedom House announced recently it was shutting down after 30 years of helping people with emergency shelter and food because it was running out of money.

“It’s tough. Times are tough,” said Karen Stanley with Caritas, an umbrella organization working with 75 organizations. “We have more need because of the economy.”

Stanley, executive director of the non-profit, helps roughly 3000 people every year. Stanley said the demise of Freedom House does not mean all help is drying up.

“We’re all standing as a coordinated system standing by to help to make sure nobody goes homeless,” Stanley said. “The public should not worry. The people that Freedom House have been taking care of will not be out on the streets and homeless.”

Back at Catholic Charities, Graham Sellors agreed that safety net organizations in metro Richmond will band together to lend a helping hand to those in need -- even if they find themselves homeless on May 1.

“I can see why people are worried and concerned about this,” Sellors said. “If you are homeless or in need you need to be able to get to our service. We just don’t know where that will be. We’re still trying to work that out.”