Valley Crisis Center set to close

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comSeptember 11, 2013 

The board of Nampa’s only domestic violence shelter hoped to steer the nonprofit through a financial crisis that prompted more than half its staff to walk off the job in July.

But the center had more debt than anyone realized, so officials decided Tuesday that it was time to cease operations, sell the building and pay off creditors.

The shelter will close Friday.

“Every time we turned around, we just had more and more debt,” said board president Mike Wagoner, a sergeant with the Nampa Police Department.

“The board didn’t fully understand what was going on until the ship was already sinking. We didn’t have a clear understanding of our liabilities and how big the hole was in the ship.”

He declined to disclose the debt amount, in part because he believes it could increase further. The nonprofit owns its building, and Wagoner estimated that it can be sold for $600,000 to $1 million, more than enough to satisfy creditors.

Wagoner said the board had hoped to mortgage the building and continue operating, but once liens were placed against the facility, that wasn’t possible.

The shelter’s books have been reviewed by outside parties — no evidence of misappropriation of funds has been found — but the board has yet to have a full accounting done by a CPA, Wagoner said.

Yolanda Matos, the shelter’s director, was notified Wednesday of her immediate termination. A half-dozen other staff members were told that their last day will be Friday, Wagoner said.

Charlene Wright, program services director, will stay on for 30 days to help with the closure.

The 25 women and children currently housed at the facility will be moved to other shelters. Hope’s Door in Caldwell helped out when the Valley Crisis Center closed temporarily in August.

Wagoner says there’s a need for a shelter in Nampa.

“This is going to leave a big hole,” he said, noting that he’s hopeful existing shelters in the Treasure Valley might branch out to Nampa.

Wagoner said it’s possible that the building could be sold to another local organization that has the same mission of helping families escape domestic violence.

“We would be interested in any offers,” he said.

Valley Crisis Center’s annual budget was about $485,000.

Some federal grants did not come through or were delayed earlier this year, and private donations were down. The shelter couldn’t pay its employees on time, and 10 of them walked off the job and filed wage claims with the state this summer.

Last week, the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance said it was withholding payments from a $135,000 grant until it could confirm that funds were being used as intended.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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