BISMARCK, N.D. — The closure of the only men’s homeless shelter in Bismarck followed financial management problems at its social services agency, records show.
The problems at Ruth Meiers Hospitality House included a debt of more than $200,000 in back taxes, wage claims from employees and a loss of funding sources, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
The facility opened in 1987 and offered emergency shelter to men for $2 a night. Advocates for the homeless lamented the loss of what they considered an essential service for the community.
Board President Rae Ann Kelsch said the shelter was losing the nonprofit more than $125,000 annually.
“Ruth Meiers’ overall financial position made it impossible to continue this annual loss,” Kelsch said.
Kelsch said current taxes have been paid since the board became aware of the issue, but ongoing revenue shortfalls have prevented the nonprofit from being able to pay off the back taxes and penalties.
“Therefore the board made the decision to liquidate the 23rd Street building,” Kelsch said.
Several employees also complained to the North Dakota Department of Labor. The employees said the nonprofit withheld money from their paychecks for retirement but didn’t deposit the funds into their accounts.
The nonprofit has paid more than $28,350 to resolve all of the complaints filed with the Department of Labor, said Kathy Kulsea, human rights director for the department.
Jaclyn Hall was the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House Executive Director at the time of the complaints. She submitted a letter of resignation in April. Kelsch said it included requests that the board decided it couldn’t meet, and Hall was relieved of her duties.
Kelsch said it was a mutual decision. Hall declined comment.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com