Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. is launching a new initiative to help families at risk of homelessness this summer.
The program will aim to identify up to 12 families with school-aged children that are on the verge of homelessness, intervene to keep them housed and then stabilize their situation to keep them that way, according to HSP Executive Director Cindy Parr.
"We are a community action agency and we continually fight poverty in our day-to-day mission … a large part of that is to keep people in their homes," Parr said. "People need a place to lie down at night, to shower in the morning and go job hunt the next day."
Families referred to the program will be given financial assistance needed to stave off homelessness as well as continued counseling in order to keep them from sliding into a dangerous position again, according to Paula Reynolds, program manager for emergency assistance.
"This could be people that have an eviction notice, for example," she said. "We will help them to pay the eviction notice and then we help them ongoing for 12 months though the case management piece of this new initiative to make sure they stay on track."
Human Services Programs has already been assisting families at risk of homelessness through its Family Links program, including 20 families over the past year, according to Reynolds, but what will make this new program different is the degree of case management each family will receive.
"This case management program will allow us to be more flexible and to help in areas we don't normally help with because we are giving an extra hand up to ensure the clients can become and remain self-sufficient by the end of the 12 months," Reynolds said. "There will definitely be an education piece as well with … energy savings workshops and parenting workshops."
Carroll County Breaking News
The $60,000 in funding for the new initiative is coming from the United Way of Central Maryland, part of an $8.1 million statewide investment in anti-poverty programs, according to a July 21 press release.
Carroll County was given $143,000, according to United Way spokeswoman Ashley Gorby, with Human Services Programs receiving an additional $15,000 in support of its domestic violence shelter, Access Carroll receiving $12,500 to support its family dental clinic, Carroll Child Care Centers receiving $7,500 in support of its tuition relief program and the Westminster Rescue Mission — which operates food assistance and substance abuse recovery programs — receiving $15,000.
An additional $33,000 will be held in reserve to assist agencies with any funding emergencies or other needs that might crop up in the next year, according to Gorby.
Human Services Programs officially began the new program July 1 and will be working to identify those families most in need, according to Parr.
Intervening to help families that are struggling before they actually become homeless, Parr said, is essential for helping them escape the trap of poverty.
"There are so many things that we as people who have things take for granted," she said. "The value of having a place of your own, the sanctity, safety and serenity and then being able to maintain that — it's a big step in maintaining the other big needs in your life."
Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or at email@example.com.