News and Tribune

Clark County

December 31, 2013

Haven House’s sewer bill covered

No plan in place to pay future bills, but organization plans to ask for reduced rate

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville’s homeless shelter will have the money to pay off its sewer bill.

Jeff Cares, a volunteer group, organized an effort to raise $11,000 in overdue sewer payments, and in three weeks has nearly met its goal. Haven House Services Inc. Executive Director Barbara Anderson said the shelter is a few hundred dollars away from having its head above water again. Haven House operates the Williams Emergency Shelter along Green Street.

Clark and Floyd counties’ lone homeless shelter was second on a top 10 list of the highest delinquent sewer bills that was released by Jeffersonville’s sewer billing office in September. And in November, the city council passed an ordinance that would allow Indiana American Water to shut off water service for nonpayment of sewer bills in an effort by the city to reclaim $1.2 million in overdue bills.

Concerns after the ordinance had been passed were that the homeless shelter would have its water shut off, forcing people out on the streets.

“The first one that really came to light was Barbara’s [bill at the shelter],” said City Councilman Dennis Julius, who also is an organizer of Jeff Cares. “When that came up, I called a few people [and said] I’m going to try and get this taken care of,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”

With an outpouring from the community handing over donations, Anderson said the shelter will be able to cover its bill.

“We’ll be able to cover it [and] there will probably be some excess,” Anderson said.

Despite the expectations that the overdue bill will be covered, Jeff Cares is still collecting money for Haven House. Julius said the goal is to leave the shelter with a positive balance to be able to move forward and hopefully Anderson can put a mechanism in place to keep it going.

“I think that’s money well spent,” Julius added.

But once the bill is paid off, Anderson said there is no way to pay the shelter’s next sewer bill.

“There is no plan and the city knows that,” she said. “The city knows that, and the city has the statutory authority to give us a [reduced rate]. This city has a responsibility to help nonprofits. The city has done nothing.”

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