Even the helpers are hurting as Neighborhood House cuts budget

Even the people who help others are hurting these days — Neighborhood House, the venerable social service on St. Paul’s West Side, said today that it has to cut its budget by 18 percent.

And that will include some staff cuts, although the agency will describe it only as “staff adjustments consistent with the reduction in budget.”

The Neighborhood House web site lists about 75 staff members, which, doing the math, could translate to a loss of 10 to 15 jobs.

“The difficult economic environment that began in 2007 has resulted in a double blow to Neighborhood House: increased demand for our services from people affected by the economic downturn and decreased donations from foundations, corporations and individual donors,” says Armando Camacho, Neighborhood House president.   

“Additionally, the reduction in the number of refugees coming to the Twin Cities has led to the discontinuation of government contracts that funded the Refugee Resettlement program.

The budget will be cut from $6.58 million this year to $5.35 million in 2009.

Neighborhood House describes itself as a multicultural, multilingual center, open to all, and committed to the success of refugees and new immigrants.

It gives this history:

Neighborhood House was founded in 1897 by the women of Mount Zion Hebrew Temple to serve Eastern European immigrants. In the 1920s, Neighborhood House became one of the first organizations in the region to serve immigrants from Mexico. In the late 1930s, the organization helped deter illegal deportation of legal residents of Mexican descent. Throughout the mid-20th century, Neighborhood House stood out as being one of the few organizations of any type to have Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leadership.

In 2006, it moved into the new Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center for Community Building at 179 E. Robie St. on St. Paul’s West Side.

Camacho sent a letter describing the situation this month to friends of the Neighborhood House.

(You can read the whole message here.)
In the letter, he said: “It is this commitment to sound fiscal management that forces the organization to make many difficult, but necessary, decisions.  Like other four-star charities such as the American Lung Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, we have been forced to reduce our expenses to match the reduction in donations from individuals, corporation and foundations.  Like other food shelves across the country, we have seen demand for food increase (up 23% over the past three months) while contributions have declined.  The result: a budget gap, with expenses exceeding revenue.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by William Levin on 12/12/2008 - 06:59 pm.

    Clarification: Neighborhood House was founded by the women of Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation, now Mount Zion Temple, to help Eastern European immigrants, primarily Jewish people escaping poverty and oppression. Mount Zion Temple is the state’s oldest synagogue and was founded in 1856, so it pre-dates Minnesota statehood by two years. The Mount Zion congregation launched Neighborhood House and has consistently supported that organization as Neighborhood House has expanded its mission.

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