Officials at Boise City Hall are usually more than happy to talk about Charitable Assistance to Community's Homeless, the city's award-winning program that provides long-term housing and services for homeless families. More often than not, civic leaders have credited much of the success to Greg Morris, project manager of CATCH since its inception. But while city officials answered questions about the future of the program, no one would talk on the record regarding Morris, who, Citydesk has learned, was recently asked to resign.
"Greg's status is a personnel issue," said Adam Park, communications director for Mayor Dave Bieter. "I really can't talk about it."
That's a significant contrast to November 2006, when Bieter introduced Morris and CATCH, saying the program was "a wonderful example of our community coming together to assist our neighbors in need." It's also a major turnaround from February 2009, when Morris picked up, on behalf of CATCH, the prestigious Silver Award for Municipal Excellence from the National League of Cities. In August of that year, a sister program was launched in Caldwell.
Since 2006, CATCH has provided permanent housing to nearly 100 homeless families--maintaining a success rate of 85 percent, with success being measured by families' ability to pay their own rent within six months.
While Boise city officials wouldn't talk about the mystery surrounding Morris' forced resignation, they did confirm that administrative changes were in the works at CATCH.
"We're enhancing the program," said Bruce Chatterton, the city's Planning and Development director. "CATCH will be brought under our Housing and Community Development department. Plus, we're going to move the CATCH offices to a new location on Miller Street."
Chatterton said that CATCH, which had been headquartered across the street from the River of Life men's shelter on River Street, is being relocated to the Pioneer Community Center, a city-owned building.
"The move will save the city some money, and we hope to apply some of those savings toward things like case managers and administrative folks," said Chatterton.
But Chatterton wouldn't say whether the city would be hiring a new manager for CATCH anytime soon.
"That's related to the personnel action," said Chatterton. "We should know about that in a few weeks."
Meanwhile, Morris has decided to remain tight-lipped about the controversy, though he confirmed that he was asked to resign and was offered a severance package. Morris has also huddled with legal representation and CATCH's board of directors, which he said "was 110 percent supportive of me and the program."
When asked, Chatterton had high praise for Morris.
"Greg did great things. He really was instrumental to the program's success," said Chatterton. "But the real focus is on the strength of the initiative and how it has changed people's lives."