JUNEAU, Alaska — A nonprofit that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is pulling the plug on its operations in southeast Alaska due to financial troubles.

Hope Community Resources CEO Roy Scheller said the decision was prompted by the state’s economic downturn. The Anchorage-based organization is shutting down in Alaska’s southeast region at the end of the month.

“This was an agonizing decision,” Scheller told the Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/2cw0ucZ). “As Alaska is moving into this current downturn, we just could not see any future in which, at least in the next decade, we could sustain what we were doing in the Southeast.”

Sara Kveum, 28, is one of Hope’s clients. Five to six employees travel to her apartment every day to help her get dressed, cook and take her to appointments.

“They keep me in check and make sure I’m doing OK,” Kveum said. “It’s very hard for people with physical and intellectual disabilities to deal with change,” she added.

The organization statewide serves about 1,000 people with disabilities. Hope lost close to $300,000 last year by providing services to southeast Alaska, in part, because of costs related to supporting 57 employees.

Some staff members affected by the move have made the switch to other agencies, a few are relocating to work in Hope’s other offices and others have left the field.

Many of Hope’s clients are being placed with agencies such as TIDES, Consumer Direct Care Network Alaska and REACH, the biggest provider of disability services in Juneau.

Kim Champney, chief of services at REACH, said her agency will be taking on the new clients as it struggles “to even provide services for the people we’re currently serving.” REACH is also dealing with a staff shortage, she said.

“It’s very difficult to find people who’ll do this work,” Champney said. “We have 10 part-time openings, 15 full-time openings and we’re getting two to three applications a week. Those are openings for tomorrow — somebody needs care and we don’t have somebody to do that care.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com