City of Murfreesboro ends lease agreement with Room in the Inn after loss of funding, non-compliance

Photo by Andrew Wigdor / News Editor

Room in the Inn, a homeless shelter in Murfreesboro, was notified by the City of Murfreesboro on Friday that the lease agreement that was in place between the shelter and the City will not be renewed when it expires on June 30, due to the shelter’s non-compliance with the City and a loss of funding from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

According to a press release issued by the City of Murfreesboro, the state comptroller’s office received two complaints regarding issues that the shelter had failed to resolve.

“While the need for shelter services in our community has not diminished, the City can no longer maintain confidence in this organization’s ability to take care of the facility and resolve issues of non-compliance,” said Assistant City Manager Jennifer Moody in the press release. “Specifically, Room in the Inn failed to respond to a number of issues raised by complaints, which resulted in the loss of funding from the state earlier this year.”

Despite City officials claiming that Room in the Inn did not respond correctly to complaints, the president of the board of directors at Room in the Inn, Bobby Copeland, stated, “I don’t know of any issues with non-compliance that we’ve had. I haven’t been notified of it. I read the (press release), and it kind of concerned me. But, we’ll just have to wait to see what happens.”

According to reports by the Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro’s community development staff will assist in finding Room in the Inn a new location, but Copeland said that the City has not notified him of plans to help with the transition.

“It’s a bad situation, but we’ll work around it, and we’ll survive,” Copeland said.

According to the press release, on Nov. 7, 2016, THDA informed the City of Murfreesboro Community Development Department that the complaints were received.

After the Community Development Department was notified, THDA and City Community Development Director John Callow visited Room in the Inn to investigate the complaints. During the investigation, Room in the Inn agreed to provide documentation to THDA and Callow, which was to include written responses to the complaints that were made. On Dec. 7, 2016, the City of Murfreesboro received a letter from THDA which recommended that the City terminate its Subrecipient Agreement with Room in the Inn. The letter also indicated that the THDA would no longer be reimbursing the City for Emergency Solution Grant expenses incurred by Room in the Inn due to the shelter providing “insufficient” documentation within the investigation. On Dec. 9, 2016, Callow informed Room in the Inn that the ESG Subrecipient Agreement had been suspended, and, in a second letter, Callow asked Room in the Inn for additional documentation to show that the shelter could demonstrate compliance with the lease agreement by Jan. 6, 2017. On Jan. 24, 2017, Room in the Inn provided the City with Certificate of Insurance documentation, but the shelter failed to provide the additional documentation that was previously requested.

“That Room in the Inn did not satisfy THDA in response to requested documentation in a timely manner is troubling,” Callow said in the press release. “THDA and the City both recognize the vital role Room in the Inn serves in providing shelter services to the homeless in Murfreesboro, but based on non-compliance with the Lease Agreement and with THDA policies and procedures to protect clients, the City has chosen not to renew the lease.”

Previously, Room in the Inn received Emergency Solutions Grants from the City of Murfreesboro for the upkeep of shelter operations. For the 2016-17 fiscal year, THDA provided the Murfreesboro Community Development Department with less than $170,000 in ESG funding, according to the press release. With that funding, the City currently supports many homeless outreach programs and shelters, including The Salvation Army, the Domestic Violence Program, Doors of Hope and the Coldest Nights program.

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