Island County cuts off its funding for Spin Cafe

An Oak Harbor day shelter for homeless people is hoping to repair its relationship with Island County after learning last week the county terminated its contract.

Spin Cafe’s drop-in center staff are funded by Island County Human Services homeless housing money.

“It took us completely by surprise,” said Spin Cafe founder and Executive Director Vivian Rogers Decker.

She said county officials met with her last Wednesday to discuss some of its concerns over staff behavior. The next day, county Human Services Director Jackie Henderson sent a letter to Rogers Decker notifying her that, due to a “substantial breach” of contract, it would no longer provide Spin Cafe funding.

The letter states that program staff members, employed using county funds, were in personal relationships with Spin Cafe’s clients.

“This kind of behavior is damaging to the vulnerable population that this organization is to serve,” Henderson wrote.

Rogers Decker said in an interview that the staff member who was brought into question began dating someone who is no longer homeless and doesn’t use Spin Cafe’s services anymore. She said there was no fraternization policy or expectation outlined by the county before.

There is no explicit mention of inter-personal relationships in the county’s agreement with the nonprofit.

“We would not mind doing that, but we weren’t asked to,” Rogers Decker said.

The letter also claims employees were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work, a violation of the contract. “This lack of oversight of staff and the inappropriate behavior leave me no choice but to terminate this contract,” the letter states.

Rogers Decker said she was not aware of staff members being under the influence on the clock until county officials told her it was a concern of their’s last Wednesday. She only knew there was a related concern regarding side effects of prescription medication that had since been resolved, she said.

Island County paid for two full-time staff members and professional development in the $50,000 agreement through funding intended to stabilize homeless individuals and families. Spin Cafe’s staff is tasked with managing the day shelter on Bayshore Drive, providing laundry passes, referring clients to services and developing structured programming for guests.

The contract can be terminated by the county if it provides Spin Cafe with an opportunity to “cure the breach,” according to the document. Or, the county may end the relationship immediately if the nonprofit breached a material term in the contract and a “cure is not possible.”

Rogers Decker said she never had much of a chance to meet with her board of directors and staff to make the corrections the county asked for. Now, she hopes that a significant number of the grants the nonprofit applied for are successful.

“Our hope is that we would be able to continue our services at the level we currently are using private funds,” she said.

More in News

Suspicious duffle-bag carrier eyed | Island Scanner

The following were taken from calls made to the Oak Harbor Police… Continue reading

Attorney, client at odds over WhidbeyHealth settlement

WhidbeyHealth Public Hospital District settled an age discrimination lawsuit in August, but… Continue reading

Oak Harbor man sentenced to jail in knife incident

A man who menaced his wife with a knife May 18 at… Continue reading

Man files another public records lawsuit against Langley

A South Whidbey man has filed another lawsuit against the city of… Continue reading

Interpersonal abuse education training open to community members

Free interpersonal abuse training is available for businesses and community members. The… Continue reading

Commissioner won’t vote on appointment of Senate replacement

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson won’t vote on a state senate… Continue reading

Be a ‘Commute Super Hero,’ win prizes

Through the month of October, “Wheel Options” gives participants a chance to… Continue reading

NAS Whidbey SAR Conducts medevac on Olympic Peninsula

A Search and Rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island conducted… Continue reading

If approved by voters, Initiative 976 would cut Island Transit funding

If passed, Initiative 976 has the potential to significantly diminish bus and… Continue reading

Most Read