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Posted: November 2, 2010 11:30 p.m.

Homeless shelter behind on rent, utilities

The Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter is once again paying rent to the Covington Housing Authority, but remains around $21,000 behind on payments.

According to housing authority attorney Jimmy Alexander, the homeless shelter also still owes $38,000 in utility bills, which the authority paid on the shelter’s behalf from June through December 2009. The two parties will meet sometime in November to discuss current debts and discuss the 2010 budget and lease agreement, he said. The homeless shelter will rent the building for one year at a time.

Alexander said the housing authority only paid the utilities because the shelter did not have the utilities transferred into its name until February, when it officially signed a lease with the authority. While the shelter made one of its first rent payments, it missed several months, but recently made a $6,000 payment last month, Alexander said.

The Rev. Clara Lett, the shelter’s director, said previously that the shelter has missed out on various grants this year, a few because it didn’t have a signed lease, and, therefore, had collected less money this year. The combined rent and utility payments can be greater than $8,000 per month. While the shelter does collect money from residents who have a job and can pay, $10 per day, many can’t pay, Lett said previously.

Alexander said the authority is not allowed to use federal money it receives to cover shelter costs, but must apply for separate grants.

If the shelter continues to miss payments, Alexander said the authority’s board of directors will have to vote upon a course of action. Shelter board member John Strauss could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

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