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Harmony Place issues explanation for closure

Daily Staff Report

A number of financial hardships plaguing Harmony Place led to the decision to temporarily close the domestic violence shelter, according to a release issued Monday by Harmony Place Board President Heidi Lesinski.

Lesinski states that reimbursement delays, mandated changes in shelter and re-housing laws, and the restructuring of the grant system at the state and federal levels have all impacted the Front Royal shelter and influenced the board's decision.

"This requires a substantial cash flow to sustain an organization of our size," states Lesinski.

She noted that the Second Chance Thrift Store, once a significant revenue source before its closing in December, began to lose money due to increasing competition among area thrift shops and big box discount retailers. She added that fundraising efforts to date have failed to make up for lost revenue and growing expenses.

"These combined developments led to the decision to sell the building at 311 East Main Street in an effort to retire mortgage debt and offset other financial obligations," states Lesinski. "The sale would allow Harmony Place to downsize into new quarters while adjusting to new mandates in shelter and rapid re-housing programs."

The Daily reported on Friday that the former executive director of Harmony Place, Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, had resigned by a mutual agreement among the board of directors.

Lesinski states that the shelter's focus on Friday was finding alternative housing for Harmony Place's clients. She thanked the Warren County Department of Social Services as well as shelters in neighboring counties for their assistance.

Harmony Place still offers counseling and hotline services to people experiencing domestic or sexual violence. Emergency alternative shelter will be arranged for those facing eminent danger.

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