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Renovations planned to expand Sarah's Hope shelter

An $8.5 million renovation and expansion project at Sarah's Hope, Mount Street homeless shelter will begin with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

The expansion at the St. Vincent de Paul shelter will create family-style living units in place of dorms and add space to provide more services to reduce the time a family stays in the facility. The ceremony is planned for 11:30 a.m.

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The renovation will create enough space for 130 people, which represents a nearly 75 percent increase in capacity.

"The groundbreaking is another step forward in our effort to make homelessness rare and brief among families in Baltimore City," Mayor Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "This additional space will allow more families experiencing homelessness to focus on getting back on their feet, rather than on where they will lay their heads at night."

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Sarah's Hope — which serves more than 100 homeless families a year — is Baltimore's largest homeless shelter for families. It operates year-round at nearly 100 percent capacity, often having to turn away homeless families due to lack of space, officials said.

The shelter, which is in the city's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, is too small and doesn't offer the privacy and amenities necessary, according to officials. The facility has 75 beds and runs out of the first floor of an old school building. The facility lacks a commercial kitchen to prepare meals and has no space for on-site infant and child care.

The project will allow the shelter to meet federal standards for housing families with teenage sons and single dads.

St. Vincent de Paul is continuing to raise money toward the expansion. So far, the nonprofit has raised $7.7 million, including money from city and state, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust.

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