Community, Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Commission says it needs details on Bartlett House situation

MORGANTOWN — Members of the Monongalia County Commission said Wednesday they are not comfortable providing a financial lifeline to Bartlett Housing Solutions until the agency opens up its books. 

Commissioner Tom Bloom said he recently explained as much to Bartlett Housing Solutions Board President Nick DeMedici. 

The comments come a little over a week after the commission learned that without at least $300,000 in emergency assistance the homeless services agency would close in its entirety in the next 60 days or so. 

The nonprofit reached out to both the county and the city of Morgantown for help. 

“I passed on to Nick DeMedici on behalf of the county commissioners that until we look at a state auditor going in and what happened with funding and the problems, I have concerns throwing any money until we know exactly what we’re talking about,” Bloom said. “Hopefully the state auditor, through the request of the Bartlett House board, will come in and evaluate and see what’s going on.” 

Commission President Sean Sikora agreed. 

“It wouldn’t be prudent to wade into it until we did,” Sikora said of the financial review. “Otherwise, frankly, we just don’t know if we’re throwing money down the same rabbit hole.” 

DeMedici told The Dominion Post the board has not yet reached out to the auditor’s office but would welcome such a process. 

Speaking during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s commission meeting, Morgantown City Councilor Danielle Trumble said city council and staff held a lengthy executive session Tuesday evening with BHS leadership. 

“We came up with some ideas about that. The city manager is going to be working on it. I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that with the trouble Bartlett House is having now, our entire community is suffering,” Trumble said. 

The nonprofit’s emergency shelter in Hazel’s House of Hope hasn’t accepted a new intake since March 15 and is already set to close by the end of next month due to financial constraints.  

A total closure would also impact the BHS housing units on West Run Road, which are currently home to 70 people.  DeMedici previously told The Dominion Post another agency is willing to take that facility on in a worse-case scenario. 

Trumble reiterated her call for all local governments to come together to discuss the area’s crisis of homelessness, including the lack of movement on a warming shelter for the upcoming winter and the looming loss of free bus service to Hazel’s House of Hope. 

Bloom agreed that the parties should come together, but noted city and county governments are not social service agencies. 

“Right now, there’s 24 different organizations that the county commission funds in this county to help with this crisis and with the opioid crisis. One of the biggest concerns is we can offer it, but if people aren’t willing to use the facilities and programs, we have a problem,” he said. “I agree with Danielle. We can come together, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do. … The cities and the county are part of the solution by funding it, but we are not the answer.”    

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting, the commission approved $30,000 to aid with security and cleanup in the event WVU plays itself into a host role for the NCAA baseball regionals at Kendrick Family Ballpark at the Monongalia County Baseball Complex. 

The dollars come from a community events fund utilizing money from WVU’s lease payments. 

Lastly, the commission moved a property at 14 Tunnel Street, in Osage, to the complaint stage of the county’s dilapidated property process. 

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