It’s been a hectic few weeks around the Warming Shelter.
Without an executive director since August and trying to maintain a safe environment in the world of Covid-19, the shelter has been hampered by ongoing disputes between staff as well as between staff and the board of directors.
People who regularly stay at the shelter have told me that they often would find somewhere else to sleep depending on who was watching the shelter over the last few months.
I feel for the outgoing board. All of them are seasoned in dealing with wet shelters and/or maintaining a legal society and no doubt they all volunteered their time because they believe in the shelter’s purpose.
However, somewhere along the way one side rubbed the other the wrong way and the communication breakdown snowballed to the point it seemed like there was no option left but to shut the whole thing down.
I’m glad people stepped forward to prevent the dissolution of the Warming Shelter Society however. Organizational problems aside, the fact is people are counting on this place to not freeze to death overnight.
Provisions had been made for the Inuvik Homeless Shelter, which is normally an alcohol-free space, to allow for the Warming shelter residents to move in. My understanding from what the Warming shelter residents have told me is there’s a lot of difficult history, which limits how comfortable they would be at the dry shelter.
I am also told by residents that of their roommates are also coping with addiction issues that would make staying at the Homeless shelter very complicated, if not impossible.
So I feel the outgoing board deserves a nod for being willing to step back from their plans and allow another party to take a crack at the society’s issues.
And there are a lot of them. The extent in which the Warming Shelter is in trouble is still not entirely known — for legitimate reasons, mind you.
In fairness, the outgoing board was quite limited in what it could say or do to make its case. Aside from pointing out the society is currently undergoing an audit and that as a legal society the Warming Shelter has certain obligations and requirements to remain in good standing, several of the issues that have come up appear to deal with staff conflicts, legal proceedings and other confidential issues that the board can’t publicly comment on without exposing itself to litigation.
And many more of the issues amounted to accusations that can’t be proven one way or the other, which simply served to fuel tensions and make communication more difficult. By the time it all spilled out into the public eye, by all appearances there was very little communication going on at all.
As the board is the more liquid part of this organization, stepping aside was the right thing to do. Many of the outgoing board members have offered their knowledge and expertise to the incoming board on the legal and corporate matters facing the new directors.
Hopefully they take them up on their offer. Otherwise, we could find ourselves here again next year if things keep boiling over.