Kearney Center lays off employees due to budget cuts

As many as 20 employees learned on Friday that they were made redundant from the Kearney Center, the city’s largest emergency housing shelter for the homeless.

Rick Kearney, president and founder of Mainline Information Systems and founder of the namesake shelter, confirmed the news in a phone interview.

Last year, the shelter increased its workforce to meet urgent demands to serve the vulnerable population at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained.

Some affected employees provide oversight and management of mental health and placement cases, which have gone from eight to two case managers, the same amount as before the pandemic.

Kearney said staff increased by more than double when the shelter was emptied and residents were divided into more than 250 rooms in two motels, an apartment complex and the existing shelter to allow for social distancing. Motels and apartments are no longer in use as vaccinated residents return to the center.

Those laid off include security guards and temporary employees who had been assigned to off-site operations.

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Rick Kearney, Chairman of the Kearney Center Board of Directors, speaks at an event to reveal the Tallahassee Memorial Transition Center at the Kearney Center on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

“We have more than double the staff we need (and can’t) afford,” said Kearney, chairman of the centre’s board. “Our ongoing revenue, based on all of our sources including (Community Human Service Partnership), United Way and state funding, etc., is approximately $ 1.3 million.”

The Municipal Way Shelter serves homeless people in Leon County and surrounding Big Bend counties.

To date, Kearney said the shelter’s operating budget has been cut by nearly half, adding that the facility’s board has told staff members to find budget cuts where possible while still now resident services.

The shelter is also reviewing the free dental clinic, which is on hold until a new grant for dental services can be obtained.

After:Restricted income residents will receive free dental care at the Kearney Center

The Kearney center will maintain 60 employees, the same workforce before COVID-19 strikes, and no further layoffs are expected.

“We will be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We will provide our customers with the same services that we have always provided, ”said Kearney. “But the surplus of employees that we have hired, unfortunately, they are unaffordable.”

Contact TaMaryn Waters at tlwaters@tallahassee.com or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.

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