Years ago, when I was relatively new in the North Country, I joined former ComLinks director Nancy Reich on a visit to North Creek, where she met with then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to talk about a new affordable housing program.
ComLinks, in those days, was one of those multi-service nonprofit social agencies that seems to have a hand in just about everything, from gleaning to home winterization to the construction of affordable housing and domestic abuse.But Reich was fired in 2010, and later pleaded guilty to a single count of grand larceny; and ComLinks has been in a down-spiral ever since.
Today, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican is reporting that the organization may shut down completely as early as the end of summer.
Board President Joe Selenski is using his own money to meet payroll and hopes — as some overdue payments continue to trickle in from Albany — that the doors can stay open until its revenue can get stronger…
“We’re on an austerity budget. We don’t even have the lights on in the building half the time.”
ComLinks is about $200,000 in debt and has been plagued the past two years by theft, mismanagement and incompetence, as well as shrinking grant funding for its surviving programs and the two low-income-housing complexes it manages.
According to the Press Republican, apartment complexes in Saranac Lake and Malone will likely be turned over to management of the Franklin County Housing Council.
The collapse of ComLinks comes at a tough time for the North Country.
The recession stoked the need for assistance for many families, and counties are looking to non-profits (as well as for-profits) to provide more and more services.
So what happens going forward if non-governmental agencies that carry more and more of the “social safety net” load hit a brick wall? What happens to the folks who were relying on ComLinks?
As always, your comments welcome.