Various nonprofits attempt to help those in need by providing a wide range of services in Hays County. However, in recent times, many of these nonprofits have been struggling due to spending cuts from the state government.
“What we have seen a down-swing in is the number of dollars given by government entities to our nonprofits,” said Michelle Harper, executive director of United Way of Hays County. “Therefore, the nonprofits we fund are asking for more dollars to make up for that.”
Harper says most social services agencies in the area apply for government funding at city, county, state and federal levels. United Way is impacted as a consequence of rising demand in other nonprofits as government funding decreases, though the organization itself receives no such funds.
Harper said local nonprofits are feeling pressured to raise more money to make up for the cuts in social service funding. The additional pressure on the nonprofits to support themselves puts a burden back on taxpayers.
The San Marcos Housing Authority is one agency affected by these spending cuts. It has received less funding recently, though it is a government entity.
“They affect us by slowing down the things we were doing, and we have to reduce our services and physical work we would otherwise do,” said Stewart Dale Spencer, resident services director. “We have enough money to do things that have to be done. But if we have something that needs some improvement, then it might just have to wait for a while.”
Spencer said the Housing Authority’s budget hasn’t been completely eliminated, but the staff must now be very cost-conscious in how they operate. Certain services have experienced cuts, such as the on-site computer lab and transportation for elderly residents to medical appointments.
“We have less money to renovate units that are in danger of becoming dilapidated,” Spencer said. “There are all kinds of things that go into maintaining a property that can get pretty expensive, and we’ve got 289 units of public housing. All that stuff takes money, and there’s less of that.”
Other organizations, such as the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, have struggled to pay their employees as a result of the tightened budget. With less money coming in, several positions at the women’s center had been cut, and some full-time positions were modified to part-time. These restrictions come at a time when the shelter has had a 17 percent increase in demand.
“If you don’t have resources, you could be counseled all you need,” said Charles Vestal, director of development and community partnerships. “But if you hit the street, it’s going to be hard to start over. Conversely, if you have the resources but never had counseling, you’ll never be able to get over what happened to you.”
The women’s center has been attempting to raise money through private donors.
“The bottom line is that to make up for that missing money, it’s going to be local people right here who care about this area, and who want to help victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and family violence.” Vestal said. “When times are bad, you have more people who need help. It takes creativity to bridge that gap.”