Love Wins Ministries, a nationally known advocacy group for the homeless, failed to disclose to its supporters that it lost its nonprofit certification 18 months ago. And last week, the state Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division notified Love Wins that it had received a complaint about the ministry's lack of transparency.
The complaint was filed by Sarah McCoy, a former associate pastor at Love Wins. She resigned in August, she said, to "pursue other opportunities."
The Rev. Hugh Hollowell, director of Love Wins, acknowledged that the ministry had not told donors about its loss of nonprofit certification. A 2014 brochure still accessible on the ministry's website states that Love Wins is "a faith-based nonprofit," and it describes itself as a nonprofit in its social media accounts.
"We did not notify our donors at large because we did not lose our tax exemption, only our certification," said Hollowell, who earns $36,000 a year, plus $4,878 in benefits, in his role at Love Wins.
Chris Simes, a member of Love Wins' board of directors, said he is aware that the group's nonprofit status had been revoked.
"We straddle the line about being a church and nonprofit," he said.
Because Love Wins is a ministry, it is automatically considered tax-exempt. But a lack of certification prevents the ministry from applying for grants from foundations that donate only to certified nonprofits. Private contributions to Love Wins are still tax-deductible.
"We haven't tried to apply for foundational money, or use our IRS status fraudulently," Hollowell said. "All of our income is from individual donors who are not in danger from the IRS because of our church status."
The IRS revoked the Raleigh ministry's certification three months before Love Wins made national headlines after Raleigh police threatened to arrest its lead pastor for giving biscuits and coffee to homeless people in Moore Square Park
Love Wins failed to retroactively file a nonprofit certification form for 2010. Because of the "inconvenient clerical error," Hollowell said, the IRS revoked the group's nonprofit certification.
Love Wins received $141,031 in contributions, according to the ministry's 2012 tax returns, the latest figures available. It spent $124,839, which includes rent, utilities, programming for the ministry, and utilities, food and transportation assistance for the homeless.
Hollowell, who won an INDY Citizen Award last winter for his work with Raleigh's homeless residents, confirmed that Love Wins is working to reinstate its nonprofit certification, which he expects to happen next month.
"It's unfortunate, but we're still doing the work we're doing. None of us are getting rich," Hollowell said. "This has just made all of us hate the IRS a little bit more now." —Jane Porter
View Love Wins' 2012 tax return at http://www.indyweek.com/pdf/Love Wins tax return.pdf.
Greystone: Yea or nay?
Like a nasty cold you can't shake, the Greystone Inn apartment project is back.
On Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, the Durham Historic Preservation Commission will consider the proposal for 140 apartments next to the Greystone Inn in the Morehead Hill Historic District.
The controversial project came before the commission in the summer, but the developer, Lomax Properties, based in Greensboro, asked for two continuances as it ostensibly tried to amend the proposal to meet historic district standards.
In October, a representative for the developer implied that the project could be scrapped if the planning staff determines it still fails to meet the standard. And according to recent planning documents, the project, even after several revisions, has done just that.
One of the major concerns of the city planning staff has been the height and scale of the three apartment buildings. They would range from four to five stories high, dwarfing other buildings in the historic neighborhood.
The staff still has those concerns, according to planning documents: "The contrasting density of the development ... does alter the pastoral character of the landmark site, and therefore this standard has not fully been met."
The developer and engineer, Horvath Associates of Durham, did remove a connector path between the inn and the proposed apartments; they also created a natural open space near Morehead Avenue. However, the planning staff reported the proposed landscaping would convert most of the trees and green space into "impervious surface," otherwise known as a parking lot. —Lisa Sorg