Zoe Christian Center officials implored members of the community on Friday to help raise money to pay their employees' salaries.
Officials at the Oxnard homeless shelter said they hope to raise $50,000 by Christmas to pay back salaries to their 15 employees. As of Friday afternoon, the center had received 17 donations totaling $4,738, the Rev. Fred Judy said. Ventura County Supervisor John K. Flynn was the first person to make a donation for the drive when he gave the shelter $1,500, Judy said.
Some staff members at the shelter, which accommodates more than 200 people on cold nights, have gone for as long as five months without pay, Judy said. They need the money to keep their residences and pay their bills, he said.
"They could have gone out and gotten another job," Judy said of the employees, "but they cared about the people." Judy said Christmas gift donations for the shelter residents have been plentiful, but he said the staff and the center still are experiencing financial difficulties.
Zoe officials said much of the center's financial problem arose last year after Oxnard refused to extend a zoning permit that would allow the center to remain at its present Rose Avenue site, near a fertilizer plant that stores toxic chemicals.
They said private donors are reluctant to finance a center without a secure location and that federal officials are hesitant to issue grants to a center in a hazardous area.
They believed they had received a windfall earlier this month when a company donated $50,000 to the center, Judy said. But the check bounced and the employee who wrote it cannot be reached, Judy said.