ANDERSON — The chief executive officer of financially troubled United Faith Housing spoke with residents and staff at Vermillion Place this week about the local nonprofit's failure to meet payroll for the past several months.
“We’ve had some issues here, and we still have issues,” Bob Reeder told a group of about 50 residents, family members and staff in the main dining room at Vermillion Place.
Reeder said a shortfall of about $450 for each of 12 empty apartments at the downtown retirement facility has contributed to employees not being paid on a regular schedule. He said arrangements have been made for paychecks to be delivered Saturday for 72 workers.
“Rent is generated by residents,” he said. “It’s that simple, and it’s that scary.”
Beginning in May, Vermillion Place and nearby Harter House were placed on a payment schedule by Anderson Municipal Light & Power for about $7,000 in delinquent utility bills.
The uncertainty surrounding United Faith Housing’s finances has led at least four employees to resign from their positions. Their last day will be July 31.
“This breaks our hearts,” Carrie Roman told the group while fighting back tears. She stood with a group of five of her co-workers as Reeder looked on. “We don’t want to leave. We love each and every one of you.”
Denise Hall expressed concern about the possible necessity of finding a new place for her mother, Dorothy, to live.
“I can’t leave her here if there’s no one here to take care of her,” Hall said.
Reeder offered no guaranteed short-term remedies for the facility’s cash flow problems. He said he and members of United Faith Housing’s board of directors would pursue federal housing grants, meet with churches to rally support and host open houses “to reaffirm our presence downtown and remind people of our place in the neighborhood.”
Reeder expressed hope that those fundraisers and other efforts could help provide enough money to make ends meet.
“What it boils down to is real simple, it has not changed in all the years we’ve been here, and that is we’ve got to have people,” Reeder said. “You can’t do without people because it’s based on rent. Whether it’s Medicaid or private pay, it doesn’t matter. It’s occupancy. It’s rent.”
A longer-term fix, he said, might involve requesting money from a building replacement fund tied to the nonprofit’s mortgage payments. Such a request would require support from the lender, he added.
United Faith Housing also owns 6 1/2 acres of land adjacent to Dossett’s Garage on Main Street. Selling that property was suggested during the meeting, but Reeder said a recent reassessment placing the land in a flood plain had diminished the appraised value.
Reeder reiterated that the key to getting both facilities back on solid financial footing is filling vacant apartments.
“Vermillion Place is not going anywhere,” board member Larry Bond told people at the meeting. “We will stay, and we will treat you like you want to be treated. We want our residents and their families to know that your loved ones will be well taken care of.”
Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.