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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

Homeless shelter wants to stay open while paying off tax debt

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. –\nLeaders of a homeless shelter are searching for a way to keep its doors open as they try to find enough cash to pay off a $400,000 tax debt.\nOne of Haven House Services' options would be for the nonprofit group to sell some of its transitional housing units to help pay the tax bill while keeping its emergency shelter open.\nExecutive Director Barbara Anderson said if Haven House sells its transitional housing property, she would like to find a buyer offering similar services so that residents would not be displaced.\nHaven House, the only such homeless shelter in the southeastern Indiana area, owes the Internal Revenue Service $400,000 in payroll taxes that were not paid over the last three years.\nAnderson said the taxes weren't paid because the agency didn't want to cut services to the homeless and because she and Haven House's board members hoped someone would come forward with a \nsubstantial contribution.\n"I let my heart do the thinking instead of my head," Anderson said. "It was a stupid decision. We were just trying our best to get by."\nShe said Haven House will not ask local governments to help pay the debt, but she hopes to develop a plan for long-term public funding to help keep the group afloat.\nHaven House Services runs an emergency shelter for homeless people in Jeffersonville, Ind. and owns transitional housing facilities in Jeffersonville and New Albany, Ind. Its shelter houses about 60 homeless people a day from Clark, Floyd, Harrison and other counties, as well as some from the Louisville, Ky., area.\nHaven House employs 23 people and has served nearly 8,700 people during the past five years, she said. The organization has a $520,000 budget for the year.\nAnderson said it's highly unlikely that the group would sell its emergency homeless shelter, but some residents are worried about what would happen to them if the shelter closed.\nKelli Orman, 33, said she and her son would likely be on the street if the shelter closed.\n"I would probably lose my son to the state, because I would have no way to keep a roof over his head," she said.

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