Morgantown Community Resources files suit against Bartlett House

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown Community Resources, the nonprofit board that oversees the Hazel’s House of Hope property, is suing Bartlett House, Inc. for breach of contract. 

In the June 3 filing in Monongalia County Circuit Court, MCR asks the court for an award of no less than $264,072.92. 

That number includes $96,854.23 in rent and utility payments for which Bartlett House is in arrears as well as $167,218.69 to cover rent and utilities through the end of the five-year occupancy agreement Bartlett House signed on Jan. 25, 2021. 

According to the suit, MCR notified Bartlett House on May 10 that it had five days to remedy the past due amount. 

It later states, “As of the date of this complaint, the Bartlett House has not communicated with MCR regarding the default or any attempt to cure.” 

Asked about the lawsuit, Bartlett Housing Solutions Board President Nick DeMedici told The Dominion Post the two sides are working together. 

“There is no doubt they want us to survive and move forward at [HHH]. With that said, we do owe them a substantial amount of money which we are responsible for. They have worked with us to exhaust all options before taking this action, and continue to work with us, but at the end of the day, we do owe them a large sum,” DeMedici said.   

“They must protect their interest to ensure the stability of Hazel’s House of Hope and the other service providers under their roof. We look forward to continuing talks in the hope of everyone’s benefit and success.”  

Per the occupancy agreement signed by both parties, MCR can retake possession of the premises and Bartlett House must pay the entire balance of the rent and utilities for the rest of the term.  

Bartlett House signed on to occupy 14,040 square feet in the HHH facility spread across the agency’s triage shelter on the second floor and client apartments on the second and third floors. 

According to the lawsuit, the amount of money generated by Bartlett House through the leasing of the second and third-floor apartments should have been sufficient to cover the cost of rent and utilities at HHH. 

“Bartlett House has repeatedly diverted those revenues generated by and through the premises for use in connection with that portion of its business operation housed off-site at locations other than the premises to the harm and detriment of MCR,” the suit states. 

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of alarming news regarding the area’s largest and longest running service provider assisting the area’s unhoused population. 

On March 8, The Dominion Post was given a letter distributed to clients of the triage shelter explaining that facility would close before the June 30 end of the fiscal year due to loss of state funding. 

As of Wednesday, DeMedici said there are at least eight individuals still utilizing the shelter. 

On March 19, Keri DeMasi announced she had been fired after more than 20 years as the nonprofit’s executive director. 

On May 9, it was revealed the financial crisis facing Bartlett House stretched far beyond the emergency shelter and that the entire organization, including its West Run Road housing units — could be forced to close within 60 days without significant financial assistance. 

“We are doing everything we can to keep Scott Avenue operating and hopefully reopen to new clients in the near future,” DeMedici said. “We are making progress. Nothing is certain, but our outlook is better than it once was thanks to the efforts of many.” 

MCR is attempting to mitigate its damages by bringing in another organization to manage the Bartlett House space. If successful, it will credit money received from those efforts against any judgement awarded by the court. 

During Tuesday’s Morgantown City Council meeting, councilor and MCR board member Danielle Trumble said representatives of MCR are expected to meet with “a few different potential types of sheltering organizations” next week.