State budget cuts hurt local non-profits - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

State budget cuts hurt local non-profits

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The impact of the 10 percent across the board state budget cuts are still being felt. Exceptional Persons Incorporated, a private, non-profit organization that depends on that state funding. Now they are having to get creative to make sure those they serve are still taken care of.

More than a year ago the story broke where 21 mentally disabled men were discovered living in poor conditions at bunkhouse in Atalissa. They were forced to leave when a State Fire Marshall shut it down.

The response by government agencies was quick and well thought out.

"I assigned DHS case workers immediately to be assigned to each of the gentlemen," said Denise Gonzales of the Department of Human Services.

Now the organization whose job it was to find a place for these men to live is facing tough times. EPI had $170,000 cut from its budget.

"I think the honest answer is it makes those kinds of large systematic responses more difficult," said Executive Director of EPI, Chris Sparks.

Like many state funded organizations EPI is having to make some tough decisions just to get by.

"We reassigned five staff positions and reduced about 14 staff positions either through attrition, just not filling that positions that had been vacated or reassigned into another area where we needed staff," said Sparks.

To make up for the budget shortfall and to help pay for other projects, EPI held it's annual fundraiser a few months ago. They were hoping to raise $50,000, instead they raised $80,000.

Right now Henry's Turkey Service, the former employer of the 21 men and owner of the bunkhouse is taking part in an administrative hearing. The hearing is part of the company's appeal of a $900,000 fine for violating Iowa's labor laws and exploiting the disabled workers.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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