Homelessness commission hopes to restore Key Alliance's depleted board

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 4:53pm

Metro Homelessness commissioners are hoping to replenish the depleted board of its nonprofit fundraising arm, but the long-term future of the entity known as The Key Alliance is still unclear.

A City Paper story earlier this week on the breakdown of The Key Alliance’s board spurred three individuals to approach the Metro Homelessness Commission about filling the nonprofit’s recent board defections, former Metro Councilman Erik Cole, the homelessness commission’s chair, said Wednesday.

“The immediate needs, as I understand them, are bring the board back up to an appropriate level,” Cole said at the commission’s executive committee meeting Wednesday.

“It’s not a good option, I don’t think, for it to simply end.”

The Key Alliance, launched in 2009 as the private fundraising apparatus to fund Metro homelessness initiatives, is in disarray after the Metro Department of Law advised that city employees shouldn’t also represent the nonprofit, as they had under the existing structure. According to city attorneys, however, the alliance’s mission is legal.

What was an eight-member board earlier this year is now down to just two members, one shy of the necessary three members to be a registered 501(c) 3, according to state statute. The two remaining board members are Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors and Howard Gentry, former Metro vice mayor who currently serves as Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk.

Neighbors has agreed to be The Key Alliance’s treasurer, according to Cole.

Carolyn Grossley, interim director of the homelessness commission, said Key Alliance funds are currently being used to provide rental assistance for two people through January. She said the nonprofit currently has a balance of $42,000, but suggested it might actually be lower.

Moving forward, Cole suggested bringing in a new “fiscal agent” to fill The Key Alliance’s role such as the Nashville-based nonprofit The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Cole made the same suggestion in an interview with The City Paper last week.

Cole said the commission would eventually put forth a formal recommendation. Its next meeting is in September.

The Key Alliance has fallen short of its financial goals. The homelessness commission’s 2009-2010 annual report said it was “positioned” to raise $35 million over the next five years, $20 million which would be from the private sector.

Yet in Key Alliance’s 2010 income tax returns (the most recent available), the group reported revenue of $65,531 from contributions, gifts and grants. Fundraising events for that year produced a net of only $6,150.

Gentry, a longtime homeless advocate, said Wednesday that’s he’s ready to “revisit” previous options to create a homelessness fundraising arm. “The fact is, we just need to move to a place where it legally works,” he said.

Gentry added that the third Key Alliance board member would “need to be able to raise money.”

Homeless advocate Jim Johnston made continual verbal outbursts at Wednesday’s meeting demanding answers to various questions about The Key Alliance. Cole threatened removing Johnston from the meeting, but he allowed him to stay.

4 Comments on this post:

By: capt4chris on 8/15/12 at 8:06

At least someone was creating an outburst! Apparently the other board member, she admitted she hadn't been to a board meeting in months!

By: govskeptic on 8/15/12 at 9:25

With both Gentry and Diane Neighbors you get all talk and resume building
with absolutely no worthwhile input or action that requires work or time.

By: Jughead on 8/16/12 at 8:19

Let's call them by the correct name: BUMS.

The vast majority are bums by their own acts. Then, liberal do-gooders tell me I have a responsibility to fund their addictions?

Not a chance in hell. I'll fund their departure from Nashville...one way tickets to California.

By: ransom tyler on 12/11/12 at 9:21

I was happy to see the report of will connelly being named the new leader of the homeless commission on WSMV channel 4. I was surprised however to hear him named as co-founder of the contributor. As the writer of the first,( that I am aware of ), account of the origins of the contributor it came as a shock that my article, written from a person to person interview with contributor founder tasha lemley and editted by tasha never mentioned that. I do recall his name being mentioned and that he was with mdha but not a co-founder. I also remember and believe that he is a driving and passionate advocate for the homeless. I honestly would never believe anything else. The truth is, as far as i'm concerned, this is just another media spin for the public and the homeless to accept Will when on all accounts his credentials are impeccable and he can stand on his own. I am not surprised however, to hear conflicting accounts. The falling out I experienced with the contributor was over the way the vendors were treated and lies i couldn't swallow. I recently heard that their director of vending, tom wills, while a member of another non profit, belcourt-yes, bought the belcourt and sold it back to that group for 1.4 million dollars. It certainly made me wonder about the tale lemley spun of years of hardship getting that paper off the ground. This community should really take a hard look at the players in this drama. I know first hand the lengths they will go to to silence a critic and my first hand experience with those people is this.... they are not in the business of helping the homeless, they're in the business of selling newspapers.