NEW: John Hope Settlement House Under Fire for Financial Struggles
Friday, March 15, 2013
Reportedly losing upwards of $30,000 per month, the 74-year-old John Hope Settlement House in Providence is on the brink of fiscal ruin and members of the state’s Black & Latino Caucus are demanding the organization’s Board of Directors explain themselves and where the money is going.
In a statement released today, Representative Anastasia P. Williams blasted those in charge at the organization that, according to the most recent 1099 available obtained through the nonprofit organization Guide Star, lost approximately $1.5 million in net assets from 2008-2009 and has squandered potentially as much as $2 million total in endowment money and other funds.
“Suddenly, the John Hope Settlement House is on the brink of bankruptcy and there are a lot of people scratching their heads because of all the money that has gone into it in the last few years,” Representative Williams said. “What is concerning to me is that taxpayer dollars and private donor money have gone to this organization and there’s no sign of how that money was spent.”
Williams said the organization needs to be transparent about its finances and where the money invested by taxpayers has gone.
“There needs to be organization, cooperation and collaboration when it comes to an institution that has been such a great service for the poor for so long.”
Williams, who serves as chairwoman of the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, has asked the directors at the John Hope Settlement House to come to a public hearing to allow the caucus to “review current financial and operational conditions, ask questions for clarification, and also have input into any changes to said financial operational conditions of the John Hope Settlement House for the betterment of all parties.”
The People in Charge
According to its 1099 form from the 2009 tax year, the John Hope Settlement House had 21 individuals listed as officers, directors, trustees, key employees, highest compensated employees or independent contractors but only two—President/CEO Peter D. Lee and Finance Director Dolores D. Sharek were listed as having received reportable compensation from the organization.
Lee, who stepped down in October and has since been replaced by Nina Pande as the head of the organization, reportedly made a total of $105,530 from the organization in the 2009 tax year.
Sharek, meanwhile, took home a total of $75,997 during the same period. According to an employee at the John Hope Settlement House, Sharek is also no longer with the organization.
Starting the Dialogue
Williams said the caucus is only interested in opening a “transparent dialogue” with the organization because “we don’t want to lose this longtime partner and asset in the community.”
“Right now, the Settlement House is experiencing serious financial problems, which have clearly impacted those important community-based services,” she said.
State Senator Harold M. Metts also weighed in on the debate and called the Settlement House “a pillar in the community for several decades.”
“We need to do whatever we can to maintain and revive the programs it provides in order to keep that vital service in the community,” he said. “We must work together to that end.”
Representatives for the John Hope Settlement House were not immediately available for comment.