NewsLocal News


Kearney Center lays off 20 employees, cites budget cuts following pandemic

Posted at 1:03 PM, May 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-29 13:03:09-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Kearney Center is feeling an even greater impact from the pandemic.

Nearly two dozen employees are now out of a job.

Board chair Rick Kearney says they were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on hotels, apartments and other COVID-19 expenses and could not afford to keep off-site workers at the shelter.

With big cuts like layoffs, they're hoping the city and county will step in to help.

"Today, I got a phone call that they were going to have to let me go," said Sheila Williams.

Williams was one of 20 people laid off Friday from The Kearney Center.

She worked as a direct care worker had been at the Westgate location for the last nine months.

"I'm gone, I'm gone I'm going to have to start over," Williams said.

The Kearney Center cited increased spending due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Spending that they say doubled from around $1,500,000 a year to $3,000,000.

Part of the reason, social distancing guidelines.

The center turned to using two motels, one apartment complex and their main building to house the homeless.

Now that they are back at their main location, Rick Kearney said they can't afford to employ off-site staff.

"I came in the office they handed me this paper and they said they had to do a lot of budget cuts and they had to get rid of a lot of people," said Deborah who worked at the center for seven years.

In 2020,the Kearney Center received $2.1 million in private funding along with taking out a $2 million dollar loan. Plus $500,000 from Leon County with their Affordable Recovery Act funds.

Now, the center is hoping the county and city of Tallahassee will provide even more help.

Kearney said they want a recurring $1.5 million dollars a year to help care for their nearly 400 clients.

And while workers like Sheila say they wish they would have had more noticed, she is grateful for the work being done by the center.

"Thank you for giving me an opportunity to work there and experience this type of work," said Williams.

In August, the organization will ask the city and county together to designated a recurring one and half million dollars to help serve their nearly 400 clients.