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S.H.A.P.E. Community Center to remain in place

Friday, February 15, 2013

There are major new developments in a legal battle over a well-known community center. An unpaid debt threatened to close down the SHAPE Community Center near downtown after more than four decades. Now we're being told the situation has been resolved.

The story had a lot of twists and turns. There was an injunction against the constable's sale of the property where the community center sits and two other pieces of property the center owns. There was a court hearing that was scheduled to be held next Monday. All that has been put off now, but the situation came down to the wires.

It was supposed to have been a rally before a court battle. Instead, the war had already been won.

"Ain't no power like the power of the people," said Deloyd Parker with the SHAPE Center. "And it's real."

The SHAPE Center has been a fixture in Houston's Third Ward for decades. But an unpaid debt involving a copier machine was nearly its undoing. It festered from a $6,000 debt to $80,000 in interest and penalties over time. And a New Jersey court ordered the SHAPE property be seized. That has changed.

"The case has been settled," announced Ben Hall, attorney for SHAPE Center. "The property has been returned."

Hll successfully negotiated with the creditors and court. O'Connor and Associates tax consulting paid off the debt.

Pat O'Connor said, "It would have been terrible to see SHAPE lose the building and we're glad they didn't."

SHAPE still has money challenges, as do a lot of nonprofits. So there's an appeal for help and a plan for the future.

"Keep the money coming in, but also make our organization more structurally sound," Parker said.

Part of that plan now includes the hiring of a chief financial officer, the first that SHAPE will have ever had.
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