Why Losing Shade Tree’s Transitional Housing Program Is Far From Fine

The program that helped abuse victims get on their feet will shutter on August 31. Here's how, and why, we need to take a stand

One of the many children who find refuge at Shade Tree following abuse.

For the past 27 years, The Shade Tree has been a haven of hope for homeless and abused women and children in Southern Nevada. And though it still stands today, the shelter needs the community to be the same to it.

On August 1, Shade Tree announced the suspension of its transitional housing program, which allowed women and their families to stay for up to a year as they secured jobs, saved money and prepared to return to the outside world. Lack of funding played a key role in the loss of the program and its services, which, on a yearly basis, costs more than $2 million.

Shrinking nonprofit budgets are becoming the norm. This summer, the Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada also scaled back, cutting its operating hours and staffing because of funding issues. And with President Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget looking to reduce spending in various areas, nonprofits could suffer even further.

Some could argue that Shade Tree already does enough without the program. On average, it provides 100,000 nights of shelter and 165,000 meals annually. Last year, it sheltered more than 5,000 women and children. But following the emergency aid, what comes next? Some women arrive at Shade Tree immediately after fleeing their abusers and leave soon after to stay with friends and family. Others might not have that option. Shade Tree’s transitional housing program was a plot of refuge. Its suspension on August 31 means a decrease in 160 beds for the shelter and a painful uprooting for those who were staying there.

Despite the setback, the shelter isn’t giving up and neither is the neighborhood. Downtown bars Oddfellows and The Bunkhouse Saloon recently stepped up; the former donating bar proceeds and the latter hosting a culinary event on September 19 to benefit the shelter.  On August 24, Shade Tree held a community giving campaign kickoff to rally support, with the hashtag #InvestInUs. Zakeisha Jones, director of communications and public relations, emphasizes that this won’t be the end of the housing program—it’s simply “being paused until we can financially sustain it.” And Shade Tree intends to do just that, with the help of the community and private investors.

Visit theshadetree.org for more information about donating and volunteering for the nonprofit.