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News Maryland Howard County Columbia

Howard County purchases site for homeless shelter for $3 million

Howard County government has purchased eight acres of land near the intersection of Route 1 and Route 32 for $3.25 million with the intention of building 30 apartments and a day shelter for the homeless.

The homeless shelter and apartments will supplement the current "aging and inadequate" shelter located nearby off Route 1 in Jessup, which is managed by Grassroots.

“We are taking important steps to implement the Plan to End Homelessness, and this project is one of the most significant,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said Friday. “Howard County is not immune from these challenges, and we can work together to make a difference for these individuals and our community.”

According to county spokesman David Nitkin, the funds for the purchase were taken from a fund approved in the budget for land acquisition. 

The new center will be developed, built and maintained by Volunteers of America Chesapeake, and will be in one structure built on approximately two acres.

All eight acres of the new site, which is located by a Salvation Army Thrift Store, will be turned over to the Howard County Housing Commission, who will lease the land to the VOA.

"I am honored to be able to bring our expertise to Howard County and look forward to working with county officials and the community to continue to make Howard County a great place to live for all," said Russ Snyder, VOA Chesapeake President and CEO.

Niktin said it is premature to discuss the future of the remaining six acres, but options could include future housing opportunities or nonprofit providers.

Before selecting the Guilford Road site, the county explored building a facility in the Beechcrest Mobile Park home in North Laurel.

After opposition from residents of Beechcrest, who complained of being forced out, and the neighboring community, the county abandoned plans for a homeless shelter.

However, residents of Beechcrest, which was acquired by the Howard County Housing Commission, are still being relocated, Nitkin said.

Nitkin said the county has budgeted $1.6 million for Beechcrest relocation and that the park will be closed in four phases, beginning on Dec. 31 through June 30, 2015. 

Regarding future plans for the site, Nitkin said the county plans to develop a plan for the interesection of Route 1 and Whiskey Bottom Road. 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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