Alex Blaze

Anti-Gay Homeless Shelter Receiving Government Funds

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 19, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: bobby harris, Columbus, faith-based initiative, Georgia, homophobic behavior, lesbian, privatization, pubic money

A church-run homeless shelter in Columbus, Georgia, kicked two women out because they thought they were gay. While the shelter denies her story, the director is perfectly willing to admit that gay people aren't welcome at that homeless shelter:

I would consider that story bad enough, especially director Bobby Harris complaining that some people only want to be helped "in their way" (because charity should totally be a means for the helper to control the helpee). He seems to be saying he stalks the people staying at his shelter and then uses the threat of discharge to keep them in line. I'm not sure that's what Jesus calls on people to do, but then I'm not the one with the title of "elder."

What hasn't been reported about this story is that House of Mercy is probably partly funded by the government. From their 990:


(For those of you who can't see the pic, there's an "X" in the box that says that this organization "normally receives a substantial part of its support from a government unit or from the general public," and refers to "section 170(b)(1)(a)(vi).")

House of Mercy got over $326,000 in revenue in 2009 (their most recent 990 filing) from unspecified sources. A "substantial amount" (one-third, according to the Nonprofit Law Blog) had to come from a government body or the general public for them to have checked that box on the 990.

Also, in the FY2011 budget signed by Georgia's governor, the Georgia legislature is looking to give House of Mercy a $75,000 grant (this is from the section of non-binding allocations):

Section 16, pertaining to the Department of Community Affairs, page 31, line 906:

The General Assembly seeks to earmark $75,000 for the House of Mercy in Columbus in the Special Housing Initiatives program. The department is authorized to operate the program in accordance with the purpose of the program and its general law powers of the Department.

I'm not in a position to investigate this any more than what I can find on the internet, but perhaps an enterprising journalist in Columbus, Georgia, would want to look into this?

While it's easy to see this as a discriminatory use of government funds, it's part of a larger war on the government that's been waged for decades now. Instead of the government building homeless shelters and shelters for battered women and their children to escape to, they've privatized much of the money and given out contracts to religious organizations to do the work.

That was the basic principle behind the federal government's faith-based initiatives. While conservatives think that the entire government should be privatized with the government itself acting as a giant checkbook that gives out money for all of its basic functions, some jobs can't be assigned to the for-profit businesses. The non-profit sector, though, is more than happy to help out for a price, and this is a way of throwing some cash at churches.

But this is also a way of privatizing public money and reducing access to that money. The woman who got kicked out of that shelter because she violated curfew so that she could get her children's legal documents (how early is this curfew anyway? Or did Harris just suspect she was out doing something that he wouldn't approve of and considered it a curfew violation?) found out that some people will use that money for their own ends and cut entire classes of people off from its benefits.

At the federal level, Obama has allowed churches that receive public money to discriminate when it comes to employment, effectively cordoning off certain government-sponsored jobs for heterosexuals only. My guess is that there are states and municipalities with even less restrictive regulations when it comes to their money, but it doesn't make it any more right.

LGBT people work in this country and their labor and creativity make the country wealthy and we have just as much a claim on that wealth as anyone else does. Homelessness is a problem that the government should be taking care of, completely, with churches helping out on the fringes with their own funds collected from their congregations. Housing the homeless is too important a task to be left to the private sector.

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Good catch, Alex. I'll bet you can do some more digging and find other funds and grants. Keep it up!

I think it's time to get some Georgia government contact numbers/addresses and send in one of those new-fangled online petitions I've been hearing so much about.
And probably calls and letters to both the Georgia government and the people running House of Mercy.

Good job Alex for digging up this story; now we should all get together and try to do something about it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 20, 2011 3:20 AM

(Poor Alex. If he just exposes the tip of the icberg of cult-government corruption and collusion in bigoted practices he'll be at it for decades.)

The secularization of all cult affiliated schools, colleges and universities and other 'charities', without compensation, is long overdue.

Secularization will keep the same services but help end bigoted practices, end the torture and sexual abuse in camps to 'change' LGBT youth's sexual orientation. It'll sever the purse strings Bush used and Obama uses to bribe cult leaders for votes and help end corruption and criminal cult interference in civil life. Most important it'll cut way down on of rapes by priests, rabbis, pastors, imams and ministers.

At the same time we should impose the same on of taxes on cults, which are after all just components of the fantasy and entertainment industry.

Guess which two parties will oppose proposals like that to the death.

thanks for brining up this issue...however I do have a question about one statement. I would like to know how this relates and is it fact? -->" At the federal level, Obama has allowed churches that receive public money to discriminate when it comes to employment, effectively cordoning off certain government-sponsored jobs for heterosexuals only."

It just seems that you just had to attempt to throw the President under the bus.

You do realize that the expression "throw X under the bus" implies that the thrower has more power than the throwee? Technically, I can't throw Obama under the bus.

Anyway, unless you have a factual issue with what I wrote in that statement, it stands. I think that employment discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and I'm not planning on changing that opinion any time soon.

Calling all LGBT EQuality Activist

Contact GetEQual GA on facebook

Send a message - If you can participate in an Action - Calling out this hatred and bigotry.!.

Thom Perkins | January 22, 2011 12:56 PM

This place needs to be defunded from public money. Money paid to the government by GAY PEOPLE. This wackjob needs to be shut down and put out on the street himself. What a bag of crap!

I disagree with you.

I think the government does the best it can to help the poor. But there is nothing in the Constitution that says it's the responsibility of the government to do so. And like it or not, the church by and large is the only organization willing to take on the job on a not-for-profit basis.

In a perfect world, church and state are completely separated, and the injustice in Georgia would never have happened. Unfortunately, such is not the case