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Freedom House to shut down for good

Posted at 9:58 PM, Apr 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-15 06:31:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- It's been a fixture in the community, providing food and shelter for our area's homeless. Now workers with Freedom House are preparing for the doors to close for good. Due to lack of funding, Freedom House leaders decided to cease operations by the end of April.

The Board of Directors said it could no longer financially support; the Conrad Center, a feeding program; the Community shelter, a transitional housing service and Sean's Place, a housing program that supports permanent relocation.

Board chairman Mark Cipolletti said members are devastated it came to this. He said the financial challenges couldn't be overcome. He said their biggest concern is that many of the people they serve are homeless men and women who have higher barriers like those who are trying to overcome addictions and clients who are just out of jail.

Cipolletti said they're now on a mission to transition their clients to other housing services and to agencies that can afford to feed those in need.

"Not only the economy, but money from faith-based organizations has gone down as they struggle to get their own donations from their congregations. Donations from individual donors are down as well, so it's coming at us from multiple angles," Cipolletti said.

Ronald Miller is sad to see the agency close its doors. He was once homeless and in 2008 was taken in by the people who run Freedom House.

Miller said he's tried to pay it forward since then and has worked part-time at The Conrad Center helping out as a day shelter worker.

There, the Soup Kitchen feeds thousands of people every year. In fact, 48,000 meals were served to the homeless from 2010-2011.

Miller said he's praying for a miracle and hopes that corporate entities and others in the community would rally to keep Freedom House closing.

Cipolletti said they have already notified staff members and clients of the closing. He said they'll spend the coming days trying to relocate dozens of people who live in their transitional housing and relocate the feeding program and other on-site services.

Founded in 1983 by area churches, Freedom House opened the Conrad Center on Oliver Hill Way to provide meals for the homeless. Each year nearly 800 volunteers pitched in to help.

The Community Center at 12th and Hull Street has provided transitional housing and case management support for 38 single adults for six months to a year. Longer-term housing was provided by Sean's Place.

"The Board is grateful to the thousands of volunteers, donors and staff who have supported Freedom House and those we have served over the last 30 years," Cipolletti said.