The new director at Health Care for the Homeless started there as a volunteer nearly 20 years ago and worked most recently as vice president for external affairs.

Kevin Lindamood, whose appointment was announced Thursday, will lead the nonprofit organization that serves more than 7,000 of the area's neediest clients annually.

Lindamood succeeds Jeff Singer, who is retiring after nearly 25 years, the last 10 as director. He becomes the fourth chief executive officer of the 26-year old service and advocacy organization on October 16.

"The board has chosen a director who will continue Jeff's legacy of reaching out to people who are vulnerable," said Adam Schneider, HCH coordinator of community relation, another job Lindamood once held. "As someone who has worked closely with Kevin, I know our organization will flourish under his leadership."

The board narrowed a nationwide search that drew several hundred applicants to about a dozen candidates before naming Lindamood.

"The Board has absolute confidence that Kevin is the right person with the right experience, dedication, and vision to engage the community in our work to end homelessness and to lead the agency into a future of innovation," said Linda Jones, board of directors chairwoman and an attorney, in a release.

Lindamood, 40, who earned a master's degree in social work, joined the agency full time in 1999 as a case manager and would later serve in many capacities, including health policy organizer and director of public affairs. He oversaw the fundraising for the $15.5 million, 60,000-square-foot building that opened on Fallsway last year and more than tripled HCH's former space on Park Avenue.

Founded in 1985, the agency delivers pediatric, adolescent, and adult medical and dental care; mental health and addiction services; social work; outreach; and access to housing and employment.

"I am humbled and honored to follow Jeff Singer, who has been a mentor to me and to the whole community," Lindamood said in an interview Thursday. "Our challenge is to build upon what has made us great and meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. We are operating in truly uncertain times in healthcare and must become more efficient in advocating for the best clinical care for our clients."

Resources that help homeless families return to the mainstream are growing scarcer in this uncertain economic environment, all while demand grows stronger, he said. The city's poverty rate has increased along with homelessness.

"As a community, we must ask ourselves what we can do to address these problems," he said. "Everybody deserves to go home."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com