Shelter for homeless and battered women has less than one months expenses, may have to curtail operations

Alpha House has serious financial problems.

With less than one months operating expenses on hand, Taft's shelter for women who are homeless or the victims of domestic violence is facing an uncertain future.

Staff has already been laid off and more cuts are being considered by the board.

“The Board of Directors has decided to look into restructuring of services offered by the facility until the financial needs can be met, said Karen DeWitt, president of the Alpha House Board of Directors in a letter to the community.

Ceasing operations as a 24-hour emergency shelter is a possibility, but not something anyone wants to see happen.

“We don't know at this point,” said Alpha House Director Holi Allen. "We just don't know. We don't want to have to close our doors.”

In 2013, Dewitt said, Alpha House sheltered approximately 75 women and 75 children with close to 1,750 personal shelter days provided. Approximately 40 of those families were from Taft and 35 families were from outlying areas around the county and state. Alpha House staff had to turn away over 110 families in 2013 when the shelter reached capacity.

Despite some rumors, it hasn't had to close its doors yet, although Allen volunteered to stay overnight Tuesday to keep the shelter open for a woman and child.

“At this point Alpha House has not closed their doors and it is our hope that Alpha House never has to close their doors,” Dewitt wrote. “There are currently people sheltered at Alpha House but due to restructuring Alpha House does not have the staff to provide shelter for more than they are at this point.

Alpha House is supported by donations, fundraisers and grants.

Its annual budget is about $120,000, Dewitt said.

“We understand that times are difficult everywhere and funding is getting harder and harder to obtain as well as less amounts of funding available,” Dewitt wrote in the appeal to the community.

It is a crisis intervention home, but often keeps woman and children for longer that the normal 3 to 14-day period, Allen said.

Stephens said Alpha House has lost some of its regular donors as people move from the community and their donations aren't replaced.

Dewitt appealed to the community for help.

“It would be a great sadness for our community if we were unable to offer our services,” she said. “If 200 people pledged and donated $40 a month that would cover a large portion of our operation expenses which run approximately $10,000 to $12,000 monthly.”

If you want to help, contact Alpha House at the 24-hour hotline at (661)763-4357.