These are from reporter Jackie Majerus:
The city's plan to cut $5,000 in funding from the Bristol Emergency Shelter will put an even bigger squeeze on the cash-strapped operation, according to its director.
"Wow," said Phillip Lysiak, executive director of the St. Vincent DePaul Society, when he heard the news. "It means we have to spend more of our reserve funds."
Lysiak said his budget year ends in September, and the city's cut will primarily impact his agency in their next fiscal year.
The money from the city, sliced to help Bristol's own budget crisis, goes toward operating expenses for the homeless shelter, Lysiak said.
"It covers general costs," said Lysiak.
The agency is far from flush.
"We're really tight," said Lysiak. "We have to find ways to cut or raise the revenue."
Lysiak's agency operates three shelters in Bristol – a 25-bed Bristol Emergency Shelter, the 13-bed Elms long-term transitional living center for single men and a similar program for 10 women and their children.
All the programs together add up to a budget of $997,000, said Lysiak, with the emergency shelter accounting for almost half of it.
The agency has $125,000 in reserves, which are supposed to be for emergency repairs and the like, but are being used for operating expenses, according to Lysiak.
This fiscal year, which ends September 30, will see $40,000 of the reserves used to operate, said Lysiak, if they stay on budget.
"We're going into the next year really, really on a thin line," said Lysiak, who said the agency's energy costs are dependent on the weather. "We're down to bare bones staff."
The emergency homeless shelter takes in single people and families, said Lysiak. He said the operating costs are about $416,000 for a year.
It's the most expensive of the three programs, said Lysiak, because it requires more staff to operate.
Over the course of a year, about 270 unduplicated people stay in the shelter, said Lysiak. He said most don't return during that year, though many do come back after that.
Most of those who come to stay at the shelter are single men, said Lysiak, but the homeless include about 50 children during a year.
A lot of the children are infants, said Lysiak, and most come with their mothers. Few of the families that stay in the shelter have two parents, he said. "Occasionally it happens."
Almost none of the families that stay in the shelter return, Lysiak said.
The great majority of the shelter residents have incomes of $10,000 a year or less, said Lysiak.
Overall, 26 percent of the adults in the shelter are employed, said Lysiak, but of the mothers, the figure jumps to 41 percent.
Almost half of those in the shelter are between the ages of 35 and 59, said Lysiak, and another 35 percent are ages 18 to 34.
Children under the age of five make up 12 percent of the shelter's occupants, Lysiak said, and kids ages six to 12 are 3 percent of Bristol's homeless.
Only 1 percent is age 60 or older, said Lysiak.
Drug use or addiction afflicts 40 percent of the residents, said Lysiak. There aren't as many of the chronically mentally ill as in the past, he said, because many of them are now in supportive housing programs.
There are rarely open beds in the shelter, according to Lysiak, who cites a 99 percent occupancy rate year round.
"It's always full," he said.
Slightly more than half of those who come to the shelter are from Bristol, said Lysiak. New Britain residents make up 10-15 percent of those who stay in the Bristol shelter, said Lysiak, who said the New Britain shelter is one that works with the Bristol shelter to find needed beds.
The rest of the residents come from many towns, including Plainville, Torrington, Southington and a few from Hartford, Waterbury, Manchester and Meriden. There are even some from out of state, but Lysiak said those people have come to this area because they've got friends or family here.
Personnel costs make up about 70 percent of the budget, said Lysiak, and energy costs take almost all the rest.
The shelter employs six full-time people and five part-timers, said Lysiak. There is a program director, a case manager and a lot of monitors, he said.
In addition, he and an assistant spend about a third of their time on shelter work, he said.
Fundraiser coming up that might help
Facing a cut in the city's contribution to operate the homeless shelter, the St. Vincent DePaul Society is looking for more help with an upcoming fundraiser.
With a Father's Day walk along Memorial Boulevard, the agency hopes to raise $15,000 this year, said Phillip Lysiak, director of St. Vincent DePaul.
The June 14 walk is open to anyone, and Lysiak said they'll be grateful to anyone who takes part.
Registrations are just starting to come in for the event, which will be held June 14.
Last year, the event brought in about $9,500, said Lysiak, falling short of the $15,000 goal.
About 100 people took part last year, said Lysiak, and each brought in donations from others who sponsored them.
"The people pool their money," said Lysiak.
This year, organizers are hoping more individuals will take part on their own, outside of the churches that have brought in many of the participants, according to Lysiak.
The Shamrock Run, a March road race and walk, brought in $12,600, said Lysiak.
The money from the March fundraiser, said Lysiak, was "totally needed," and an increase over the previous year.
To get involved with the Father's Day walk, pick up a registration form at local churches or contact St. Vincent DePaul at (860)589-9098.
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