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SHADE TREE CUTTING EMPLOYEES, SERVICES DUE TO GOV'T SHUTDOWN

A woman sits in the Healing Garden at the Shade Tree shelter in this undated file photo. The shelter is having to layoff 10 percent of its staff and trim services due to the federal shutdown. FILE PHOTO
A woman sits in the Healing Garden at the Shade Tree shelter in this undated file photo. The shelter is having to layoff 10 percent of its staff and trim services due to the federal shutdown. FILE PHOTO

One of the Las Vegas Valley's critical service providers is scaling back operations because of lost funding from the federal government shutdown.

Shade Tree Women and Children's Shelter has lost $25,000 monthly in funds originating from federal programs, and will cut health and shelter services - along with staff - immediately, the nonprofit reported Friday.

It is the latest but far from the only service provider hit by the federal shutdown, the effects of which have closed private businesses, particularly those associated with the national parks and conservation areas, and impacted federal, state and local government agencies as well as other nonprofit service providers.

Shade Tree is the only 24-hour, full-service shelter in Nevada providing housing, nutritional and medical support to about 350 women and children, many of whom are the victims of domestic violence, daily.

Six staff members will be laid off, and more than 50 remaining staff will have a 10 percent furlough of hours immediately.

Marlene Richter, Shade Tree director, said six staff members will be laid off immediately. As of midnight Saturday morning, 24-hour intake for new clients will be eliminated, unless an individual or family is accompanied by a police officer; Shade Tree will accept new intakes at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

Snacks for women and children will be cut in half, and one of four women's health clinics, where ob-gyn, cancer screening and other women's medical services are provided, will be eliminated. Richter said doctors usually see more than a dozen patients during a typical clinic.

Richter said that Shade Tree depends on various grants and funding sources, and is juggling sources to keep some critical missions operating. If only federally funded employees had been laid off, all shelter and kitchen staff would have been eliminated. She said six different funding entities have thus far reduced or eliminated funding for Shade Tree. The multiple and sometimes overlapping funding sources give the program some flexibility, she said. 

Shade Tree and other service providers already have struggled with the long, difficult economic downturn. Richter said that between 2011 and 2012, Shade Tree saw a 50 percent increase in the number of clients coming through the shelter, from 4,000 to 6,000 women and children. 

Richter said service impacts from the federal shutdown, which started with a congressional impasse Oct. 1, will only worsen as long as it continues.

"Of course the next thing - this is not just happening at the Shade Tree, but it is and will be happening to the community that we serve," she said. Families could face loss of hours at work, loss of child care, lost nutritional or medical benefits as the shutdown continues, and those families may turn to Shade Tree as a lifeline.

This week, Gov. Brian Sandoval warned that unemployment compensation, food stamps and nutritional support for women, infants and children could end for nearly a half-million Nevada residents if the shutdown continues through the end of October.
Shade Tree runs a three-story, 38,000-square-foot shelter at Owens Avenue and Main Street in North Las Vegas that provides 100 percent free services for women and children.