The A-Way Home shelter may be down, but it's not out.
The shelter closed its doors to the homeless and others in need Friday afternoon, but that does not mean A-Way Home is out of business.
"We're closed," Greencastle Housing Authority Executive Director Debbie Zigler told the Banner Graphic Friday, "but we're not totally gone yet."
Plans are for the shelter to remain closed to the public for the remainder of 2011 and then reopen sometime in 2012.
In the meantime, the shelter board is focused on regrouping, reorganizing and re-energizing A-Way Home, its funding expectations and realities, and themselves.
In fact as early this coming week, an outside consultant will be meeting with the shelter board and some members of the community to help plot the future of A-Way Home.
"Right now the reality is starting to sink in," Zigler said Friday. "We've been getting a lot of phone calls this week like 'I been hearing the rumors you're closing, is it true?' Unfortunately, yes it is," she said.
By noon Friday, only two of the 22 residents of the shelter the past two weeks remained. One of them was merely waiting for a ride to pick him up while the other was at an appointment and would only return only to retrieve belongings.
"All the residents were to be out by 5 p.m. Friday," Zigler said, noting that all the families that had been staying at A-Way Home in recent days and weeks have been able to rent living quarters.
Individuals, she said, have turned to family and friends, although some were forced to move to other shelters outside Putnam County.
Since the A-Way Shelter opened in July 1996, it has served more than 2,400 people, averaging 15 or 16 residents per day (with a high of 35 and a low of two people over the years), Zigler said.
She and her staff were busy Friday closing down the portion of the building beyond the office area of the Housing Authority, which will remain open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
All food items with perishable dates listed will be given to the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry, she noted.
Essentially, the shelter's financial situation is a byproduct of the same difficult economic times that have put many a resident in the facility at 309 E. Franklin St., Greencastle.
Federal cuts have curtailed the funding the Greencastle Housing Authority (parent agency of A-Way Home) receives, which in turn has severely impacted the shelter's budget. Additionally, funding received from United Way has been cut in half over the past five years.
The shelter's overall budget, including salaries (for one fulltime position and seven part-timers), insurance, maintenance, supplies and utilities has been $127,000.
Zigler said the shelter has "things in the works," including a grant application to the Putnam County Community Foundation and some potential funding and fundraising sources and ideas.
"But nothing happens very fast," she conceded.