On April 15, 2003 the Baltimore County Cold-Weather Shelter program closed for this winter. Approximately 100 homeless persons are in search of housing in Baltimore County and surrounding counties. What will happen to them? Where will they go?
More than 2,000 men, women and children are homeless each night in Baltimore County. The cost to Baltimore County is lost human productivity and human capital, rising street presence of homeless, men, women, and children. Beyond the societal problems, homeless is personal tragedy for those experiencing it, creating a sense of helplessness, homelessness, and despair.
Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation operates two overnight homeless shelters during winter months, November 15th April 15th. The Eastside shelter is located in the County’s Eastern Regional Family Resources Center in Rosedale, which is on the grounds of the Franklin Square Hospital. The location has been the site for many years. The site has been experiencing a problem of overcrowding. On any given night the shelter has been serving up to 100 persons, double the intended capacity.
The Westside shelter, serving about 35-40 people each night, was initially located this winter in an unused nursing home in Woodlawn northwest sector of Baltimore County. When the heating and water systems failed there, the homeless persons were moved to the Eastside Shelter. After a month they were moved to a vacant residential building on the grounds of Rosewood State Hospital, which is located in Owings Mills. After a five-week stay at Rosewood, they were moved to a new but not yet unoccupied garage building of the Department of Public Works in Halethorpe. These moves have caused many hardship on the homeless persons, as well as, the many church providers who support the shelter through donations-food, people and other supplies.
Baltimore County Coalition for the Homeless (BCCH) reported in their position paper on the homeless that “ in November 2002 Baltimore County’s Two Freezing Weather Shelters (which are only open from November-April) totaled 1,079 bed nights. These numbers however do not reflect the bed nights needed during the peak winter season when the shelters can expect an average number of at least 150 people per night. In addition, Baltimore County supports only 100 emergency beds and 103 transitional beds for estimated homeless population of 2,000 (based on an annual point in time survey of all providers.)” Baltimore County can do better.
BCON homeless caucus is working to organize and provide relief for the homeless in several areas. Below is an update and immediate needs facing the homeless in Baltimore County. If you and or your house of worship wish to help, please contact Howard Jackson-Lead Organizer for BCON at 410-558-2138 or by e-mail. The Caucus meets every other Thursday night at Catonsville United Methodist Church at 6 Melvin Ave, Catonsville.
BCON proposes the establishment of. The Lazarus Village Project (LVP). The LPJ will be designed to mitigate and decrease the circumstances that cause homelessness. The goal is to coordinate health care, housing and jobs for 100 people. This outreach facility will be situated on a site in Baltimore County yet to be determined which would include space for a permanent cold weather shelter. The village type living concept will contain facilities for medical services and housing along with such resources as legal assistance, child support recovery and an employment agency. Other features include a drop in center for skill building and fellowship, a Laundromat and a miniature diner open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This village will stand as a model for other transitional housing for the 5 sectors in the County.
Organize allies from the business, government and civic sectors. Build a coalition of institutions and individuals who will support the Westside Cold Weather shelter and the Lazarus Village. The group’s short-term goal is to identify a site in the Southwest sector of Baltimore County, in particular Spring Groove. Long-term goal is to acquire 1-2 acres of land to be the home for BCON’s Lazarus Village Project.
- Organize a information briefing for state and local official Done on 4.14.03
- Organize and implement a letter writing campaign in process
- Organize a bus tour of Homeless Service in Baltimore County and Baltimore City. - TBA
- Participate in a walk-through of Spring Groove with Gov. Ehrlich. TBA
- Send letters of Inquires to funders interested in the homeless issue.
Issue Update May 2003
The second meeting between BCON Caucus and the Catonsville Coalition was held on May 9, 2003. The group reported out on possible sites. The group received reports on how multi-interest could co-exist at Spring Grove site, meeting between Baltimore City Office on Homeless, Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation and BCON, a meeting between BCON and the Governors office on Faith Base and Community Initiatives. The group learned that there is 190 acres on the site but only 90 acres are re-developable. The team agreed to continue to seek Spring Grove site as well as other sites. Baltimore City office on Homelessness is willing to collaborate with Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation in looking for sites for future Homeless shelters that can be shared by both.
Issue Update April 2003
The BCON Homeless Caucus met on April 14th with local organizations from Catonsville and local and state elected officials. Those in attendance were Senator Kelly and delegates Burns, Jones and Pulliam from the 10th MD legislative district, Delegate James Malone from the 12th MD legislative district, Mary Harvey and Sandy Monck from Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation, Bruce Van Dervort, Executive Director of the greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, and other representatives from the religious and community leaders. BCON educated and brief them on the state of homelessness in Baltimore County and offered their response to the problem. After questions and answer the group agreed to reconvene in 45 days to finalize a comprehensive plan for the project.
Baltimore County and Baltimore City. The group was assigned several task and agreed to meet again on June 30, 2003
Catonsville United Methodist Church approved usage of a room in their church to be used as a Homeless office for the BCON Homeless Caucus.
Issue Update March 2003
Housing Short Term
In the causes there are 5 individuals (4 males and 1 female) who are in need of housing. Collected they can provide $ 200.00 per month towards rent. The caucus is looking for any rental opportunities on the northwest/southwest side of the county.
There is a couple who works but do not have a place to stay. They can pay $ 350.00 per month towards a rental of an apartment. They do not have a car so the location needs to be on or near a bus line.
Housing Long Term
BCON homeless caucus is planing a strategy session on April 14th to discuss and develop a blue print for use of Spring Grove property as a site for a Homeless Village. The site would provide housing, social and health services, food, and laundry. The meeting will have local, and state representatives from Government, Catonsville chamber of commerce, and BCON.
It will be held at Catonsville UMC at 3:00pm.
Rev. Dellyne Hinton and Mr. Rodney Moore attended the MD/DC IAF 3-day training. The training focused on equipping them with skills and knowledge in how to be an effective participant in the public policy arena. And how to organizing for power.
The caucus is seeking leads for employment (i.e. foodservice, supper markets, domestic-yard work, etc.)
The caucus is in need of $ 250.00 per month for monthly bus passes for 5 caucus members. The pass would allow them to get to job interviews, medical appointments, social service appointments and BCON weekly meetings and actions.
Issue Update 3/28/03
Homeless individuals and BCON leaders have formed a Homeless Caucus. They meet every Thursday night at the west-side shelter on Bradey Ave. near Washington blvd. And sulfur Spring Rd. in Halethorpe.
The caucus have identify the following problem areas:
Housing Short Term
On April 15, 2003 30-35 from the westside and about 70 from the eastside will have to leave their current shelter sites. On April 15th Baltimore County will end their cold weather shelter for this winter which is set up to operate between November 15th to April 15th. This action places the homeless in the position to find housing on their own. The Homeless Caucus has been exploring alternative sites for the immediate housing problem. Todate the caucus have not located a site.
Housing Long Term
The Homeless Caucus have been in conversation with Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation, Del. Adrienne Jones, senator Delores Kelly, Catonsville Chamber Of Commerce around obtaining Spring Groove as a site for a year around location for the homeless. The goal is to have all the services that the homeless would need to become self-sufficiency located on one site-a village concept. This would house about 25-50 homeless persons. Howard Jackson is currently seeking to arrange a meeting with Mr. Lonnie Davis, director of I Can, Inc., an organization that develops innovated programs and housing to assist ‘ homeless Persons”, in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Currently, I Can Inc. operates the Lansdowne Transitional Housing facility, a 12 bed, 6 to 9 months transitional shelter, located in Lansdowne, Baltimore County and the Hannah More Emergency Shelter, a facility created as an emergency shelter for homeless single women, couples and one or two parent families. This program is designed to provide emergency shelter and services for up to sixty (60) days. Referrals are made by the Baltimore County Department of Social Service.
Rev. Dellyne Hinton from Catonsville UMC has started working with the homeless persons at the westside shelter on completing their resumes. Rodney Moore, member of Homeless caucus, and howard Jackson made contact with New Hope Carreer Services, Inc. a non-profit organization that offer a continuum of services and programs that will close the gap between low-income and self-sufficency, while building stronger families. They provide job seeker services and assistance. The Director, Mr. Tim Harrison will visit the westside shelter on Thursday, April 3, 2003 to begin working with those homeless person who choose to work with him on job readiness. Howard Jackson has also been in contact with Solidarity employment agency Inc., a cooperative employment agency owned by its workers. Mrs. Avis Ransom is the director and is looking to visit the westside shelter in the near future.
Gloria Powell from Catonsville UMC has taken the lead in contacting Baltimore County Department of Social Services to discover how best the homeless can gain better access to westside office.
Ideally, two bus tokens per person are scheduled to be given out each day for the homeless to get to appointments and services during the day and to return to the shelter at night. Monies for the tokens have run out and the westside shelter is in need of them. The Homeless Caucus estimates that for the next two weeks, 500 tokens are need.
Shelter at the Pick-Up Site
Howard Jackson and Rodney Moore have been in contact with two school bus contractors around have a bus station at the pick-up location when there is severe cold/bad weather.
Organizing the Homeless
Will Smiley, member of the homeless caucus, and Howard Jackson will be visiting the eastside shelter on April 1, 2003 to inform, educate on the efforts of the Homeless Caucus in hope of recuite others to be part of the caucus.
Howard Jackson will present 4 homeless person to the BCON executive board recommendations for scholarship to attend the MD/DC IAF 3-day training in May 2003.
Two males and 1 female with two children from the shelter has joined New Imani Community Church. Many are attending Sunday worship and bible study on Friday nights. On Thursday, March 27, 2003, Mr. Rodney Moore accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and savior through the efforts of New Imani Community Church Evangelism Explosion ministry.