- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

MONROE, La. (AP) - Faced with the threat of closing, the DeSiard Street Shelter in Monroe, a destination for almost 100 people each weekday, will not be shutting its doors anytime soon.

Its operators of more than 15 years are retiring, but churches in Monroe have partnered to keep the shelter open, the News-Star reports (https://tnsne.ws/1E1Xqdl). The shelter had faced possible closure at the end of April.

First Baptist Church of West Monroe and at least four other churches will contribute to the shelter’s approximately $6,000 in monthly operating costs.

Local residents Kay Southern and Charles Smith funded and operated the shelter for more than 15 years. Earlier this year they said up-keep was becoming too expensive and they are ready to retire.

First United Methodist Church of West Monroe’s senior pastor Jon Tellifero will serve as interim president of a board created to oversee the shelter, which offers hot meals, laundry facilities and a community for people facing similar hardships.

“Kay and Charles will still have a strong voice with the shelter - we’re just shifting to a new day,” Tellifero says. “Without them, the shelter would have just been a concept.”

Tellifero says the board is reaching out to groups and organizations involved in ministry work at the shelter to discuss the next steps. He says volunteers and donations are still needed.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in Louisiana has declined nearly 12 percent since last year and has fallen roughly 63 percent since 2010.

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Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com

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