Major Spanish-language homeless shelter agency is expected to close after state pulls funding
Many staffers explained to the World that they — and the families they serve — are becoming punished for the misdeeds of Manuel Duran, the former longtime government director who resigned a year back and now faces prison charges.
“It’s not good that our agreement did not get renewed since of anything we experienced no management more than,” said Darlene Vaccaro, a supervisor in Lawrence, who was once a shopper. “It’s like we’re staying punished for one thing we had no know-how of. It seems like an additional betrayal.”
Jahira Oliver, who has been remaining with her two children at a Casa Nueva shelter in Dorchester for 5 months, mentioned she’s unsatisfied that her spouse and children has to leave. She doesn’t know wherever they’ll go future.
“We have develop into very at ease below, with each other and the workers,” said Oliver, who gave delivery to her 1-month–aged son although residing at the shelter. “The workers ended up so comprehension. They did whatsoever they could to make me at ease.”
A DHCD spokesman would not describe why the deal isn’t currently being renewed. In its place, the spokesman stated in an e-mailed statement that “the protection and properly-being of shelter occupants are DHCD’s 1st precedence,” and the company is doing work to come across “other companies that can effectively supply these essential providers for vulnerable people.”
In January, Duran agreed to fork out $6 million to settle a civil match brought by Lawyer Basic Maura Healey, who billed him with pocketing thousands and thousands of pounds that have been intended to help homeless people today. Below the settlement, Duran, who developed a authentic estate empire while he ran the shelters, has to provide 9 homes, such as three homeless shelters, and transform over the proceeds to the point out.
Healey’s business alleged he stole $2.29 million from the company, but beneath the state’s wrong claims legislation, the condition was ready to obtain triple the amount of money.
Duran is also struggling with different legal charges, for allegedly thieving at the very least $1.5 million from the nonprofit in an elaborate scheme in which he secretly rented his have attributes to Casa Nueva Vida for shelters. He charged exorbitant rents, prosecutors say, though employing the lease agreements to receive lender financial loans to broaden his authentic estate holdings.
Duran is charged with perjury and an array of other fees. The situation is scheduled for a pretrial listening to on May possibly 16.
However, Duran has opened new enterprises that individual and function genuine estate considering that leaving Casa Nueva Vida in April 2021, in accordance to point out corporate information. Under his agreement with the legal professional typical, he is barred from functioning for any nonprofit or any agency that gets condition funding.
A person previous Casa Nueva Vida personnel explained that right before Duran’s scheme was uncovered, she and other workers elevated issues about him with the DHCD formal who oversaw the agreement.
“Multiple people advised her that they desired to glance into Manuel. He was violating the rights of the citizens and staff and was misusing cash,” mentioned Kathia Solorzano, who worked at Casa Nueva Vida for far more than 3 many years. “I instructed them about the facet firms. They informed me the need to have outmoded what was correct or erroneous.”
She mentioned she also warned DHCD that Duran often funneled homeless persons from his shelters to apartment properties that he or his partners owned.
DHCD officers denied they experienced been warned or realized something about Duran’s wrongdoing.
Duran’s lawyer, Thomas Dwyer, identified as the selection to cancel Casa Nueva Vida’s condition deal “patently unfair” and urged Governor Charlie Baker to step in “to suitable this unhappy injustice.
“I’m incredibly disappointed,” Dwyer stated, noting that condition officers gave Duran no trace that they ended up organizing these a drastic action. “A charity that has finished excellent do the job in the group for a lot more than 30 yrs is currently being compelled to shut its doorways.”
Vernon Blessing, the interim govt director appointed in January, was notified in early April that the state was pulling its funding, personnel reported. Most of the households have not yet been explained to of the closings.
On Tuesday, the DHCD moved the initially of Casa Nueva’s families to an additional shelter, an official said.
“I feel extremely sad, extremely awkward,” mentioned shelter resident Santa De La Cruz, by way of a Spanish translator. She has been residing at a Casa shelter in Dorchester for a calendar year with her 8-year-previous son Edgar Villar. “It’s like starting up in excess of all over again. I really do not know if we’ll get the exact treatment at someplace new.”
Staff explained they housed extra than 550 households all through the two-12 months pandemic. The 90-member personnel, designed up mostly of gals, is mainly bilingual. Shelter residents are normally Spanish-talking, even though Casa Nueva Vida is also open up to people of other backgrounds.
Zaide Estremera, a senior circumstance supervisor, mentioned the company moved 109 people out of its shelters and into more long-lasting housing in the past 12 months by yourself.
Maria Gutierrez, a housing supervisor in Boston, stated the people are “very, extremely down, incredibly sad” they have to leave Casa Nueva Vida. “The point out will not set them on the road. That is a excellent detail. But what will transpire to them? The family members get really near. They cook together. They enjoy Tv set jointly. Waiting for housing — ready for an condominium — it’s incredibly challenging.
“I pray to God make sure you help us,” she said. “I’m hoping for a wonder. We’re living in The united states where by miracles constantly materialize.”
Andrea Estes can be achieved at [email protected].