Support a 12-Month Homeless Shelter in Frederick

lintonshelter260x175I appreciate this opportunity to offer a bit of background and a path forward on the issue of the “homeless shelter” in Frederick County. It is a bit of a misnomer to label the Linton Shelter our Frederick County homeless shelter. This facility is one of five provider facilities that offer shelter services to individuals experiencing homelessness: Heartly House, Frederick Community Action Agency, Advocates for Homeless Families, Alan P. Linton Jr. Emergency Shelter/Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, and the Beacon House through the Frederick Rescue Mission.

Some information regarding our community’s provision of services can be found here: https://www.cityoffrederick.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/263.

The Linton shelter currently provides a “cold-weather” emergency shelter facility for single men and women. Typically the shelter opens in November and closes in March or April. The issue of homelessness received increased attention during the 2013 election in the City of Frederick. The candidates were asked about their support for a 12-month solution because, after all, homelessness is not seasonal. Arguably the summer months can be just as brutal (if not more so). When I was asked the question at a July forum, I replied honestly that I didn’t have a lot of answers, or good ideas to offer. I went home from that forum disappointed in myself and determined to do some research.

What I went on to learn was shocking!

I was surprised at how little we spend to provide services for our most vulnerable populations, in the a city and county. We don’t blink to spend hundreds of thousands on beautification projects or land deals, but finding the $150,000 to provide an all-weather 12-month emergency homeless shelter is impossible?

You may know that I’m a Republican. I identify myself as fiscally conservative, socially moderate (code word for “I don’t judge – I really don’t care what you do in your private life”). Being a fiscal conservative and process improvement guru in my professional life, I learned that our status quo is unnecessarily complicated AND inefficient for the people we are supposed to be helping. Partly because of my big mouth, but more importantly because of the bubbling concern expressed by providers and advocates of helping our homeless, this issue became a significant issue in the e;ection. All five candidates who were elected to the Board of Aldermen publicly supported a 12-month shelter.

In fact, in late December, I wrote this Letter to the Editor to the Frederick News Post, expressing hope that the issue would not be forgotten after the election.

Fast forward to today, roughly three months since the 2013-elected Mayor and Board took office. On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Mike Spurrier, the Director of the city’s Community Action Agency, presented a plan to move forward with a 12-month option. You can see his presentation here. (It is entitled “Use of Funds Collected under the Payment-In-Lieu Ordinance” on the agenda.)

This plan (http://cityoffrederick.granicus.com/…) involves a partnership in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (MOU) between the City of Frederick, Frederick County, and Religious Coalition. The MOU has not yet been signed and there is projected to be a gap in service – meaning that at some point in the next few weeks the shelter will close and 20-50 individuals will be on the streets until we get our act together and re-open the shelter.

I’m asking everyone to take a moment to weigh in! Please email the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to support efforts to move this issue forward. At this point, we need to let them know about the concern and support in the community, and encourage them to move forward, and take steps to bridge the gap in service.

We need to communicate our advocacy. Here is some sample text: Copy and paste, rephrase or put it in your own words:

“Dear Mayor and Board of Aldermen,

I am an advocate for our homeless in Frederick County. Please take action to bridge the gap and keep the shelter from unnecessarily closing, forcing our homeless back to our streets. I am a community partner and I want to be a part of this solution!

Sincerely,”

Here are their email addresses:

Mayor Randy McClement: rmcclement@cityoffrederick.com

Alderman Kelly Russell: krussell@cityoffrederick.com

Alderman Michael O’Connor: moconnor@cityoffrederick.com

Alderman Phil Dacey: pdacey@cityoffrederick.com

Alderman Josh Bokee: jbokee@cityoffrederick.com

Alderman Donna Kuzemchak: dkuzemchak@cityoffrederick.com


More information

Support For A 12-Month Frederick Homeless Shelter on Facebook

Frederick County Homeless Students Initiative on Facebook

Facebook EVENT page for “Addressing Poverty: Listening to the Voices of the Homeless” on Thursday, March 27at 12:00pm – 2:00pm at the C. Burr Artz Public Library.

LOCAL RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS FACING HOMELESSNESS

2013 Poverty Fact Sheet (pdf file) from The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs

Spring 2014 Newsletter (pdf file) from The Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs

From Frederick Gorilla Magazine
No Place Like Home
January 29, 2014

A selection of recent articles, columns, editorials and letters to the editor in the Frederick News Post:

Year-round shelter proposed as part of expanding Frederick’s housing programs
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Community rallies for homeless students
Letter to the Editor (by Liz Barrett)
Sunday, March 9, 2014

Putting homeless students in the spotlight
Editorial
Saturday, March 8, 2014

Failing homeless students
Letter to the Editor (by Ed Hinde)
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Advocates eye budget to heal homelessness
Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting home
Friday, February 21, 2014

Organizations count homeless in Frederick
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Poverty forum exposes gaps in services
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Year-round shelter
Editorial
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Officials: Open emergency shelter year-round
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Community collaborates to address poverty
Friday, January 10, 2014

Frederick increases services for homeless in response to extreme cold
Monday, January 6, 2014

Don’t forget election promise
Letter to the Editor (by Katie Nash)
Friday, December 27, 2013

Frederick’s cold-weather shelter opens tonight
Wednesday, November 13, 2013