200-year-old NYC youth charity to shut down after years of late contract payments

(Gothamist) David Brand, February 23, 2023

A 200-year-old New York City nonprofit serving more than 17,000 kids and families is shutting down after years of funding cuts and millions of dollars in late contract payments, its CEO told Gothamist on Monday.

Sheltering Arms was founded in 1823 and operates youth homeless shelters, foster care, mental health treatment and housing programs in every borough except Staten Island.

CEO Elizabeth McCarthy called the decision to end services after two centuries “devastating” and said late contract payments and low enrollment in some programs doomed the organization. Sheltering Arms’ financial problems worsened during the pandemic, with a $2 million budget gap forcing it to cut its daycare programs last year, she added.

“If I were building a bridge for the city and they stopped paying me for 18 months I would stop building the bridge,” McCarthy said. “They’re mission-driven businesses, but they’re still businesses.”

Backlogged contract payments have long pained nonprofits and is among the issues Mayor Eric Adams pledged to tackle early in his tenure. Adams and City Comptroller Brad Lander joined forces last year to create a task force to “get nonprofits paid on time.”

“We pay our firefighters, teachers, and health care professionals on time — and other contracted essential workers should be no different,” Lander said in a statement Tuesday.

Read More: Gothamist