Washington homeless shelter at risk of closing

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The Zion Shelter in Washington is at risk of closing due to lack of donations causing a budget shortcoming.

The shelter, which opened in 1986, can house up to 12 men at a time. However, with just around $5,000 remaining to cover the operating cost, those in need may be turned away.

“If we don’t turn it around, the only option we do have is to shut down,” said Keith Harris, assistant director for the shelter.

Harris said it usually takes around $60,000 to operate the shelter each year. Around 60 to 70 percent of that operating budget is covered by donations. Without those donations, the mission of serving those most vulnerable may be at risk.

“We try our best to make sure that they are comfortable and we bring them in and try to help them out as much as we can,” he said.

Things have gotten so bad that Harris and other shelter officials asked county commissioners during the October meeting for money. However, commissioners said no specifics were given, so they told the shelter to come back next year during their budget discussions. After finding out how dire of a situation the shelter is in, they may change their mind.

“We always prefer to do this during the budget process in the Spring, but we do understand now that this is much needed,” said Commissioner Ron Buzzeo.

Buzzeo said there is a chance they could take some money from the county’s fund balance, which has around $20 million, to help in the meantime.

Shelter officials are still looking for donations. To make a donation, send, or deliver, money or a check to the Zion Shelter and Kitchen at 114 MLK Dr., Washington, NC 27889. If you have questions call them at 252-975-1978

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