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Veterans shelter project in Army reserve building continues forward progress

The plan to use the U.S. Army Recruiting/Reserve Building, at 412 Malcolm Drive in Westminster, as a shelter and resource center for homeless veterans is continuing to move forward.

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At the time, then-VAC Chair Frank Valenti said the building, which is about 13,000 square feet, appeared to be in satisfactory condition.

Valenti, who has since stepped down as the VAC chair, told the Times this week the project continues to move forward. A nonprofit is in the midst of being created to manage, administer and oversee operations at the facility.

The project is not a county project or under the VAC, Christine Kay, director of the county's Department Of Citizen Services, said via email.

"The Veterans Advisory Council serves as an advisory group to the Board of Commissioners regarding issues facing local veterans," she said "The armory project will be led by a separate nonprofit provider."

Currently, Valenti said, the facility is designated for law enforcement purposes. The group working to form the nonprofit, of which he is a part, plans to file an application with the Department of Health and Human Services to get that designation changed so the ball can begin moving on the project.

"It's a very lengthy process," Valenti said.

Valenti said his group hopes to have this paperwork and information ready to send off by the end of the summer. It will go to the county's attorney to ratify, and then to HHS, he said.

As this is going on, the group heading the project is working to get the nonprofit side of things set up, he said. The hope is to have the nonprofit designations set up and have an answer from HHS by the end of the calendar year, Valenti added.

"There's a lot of support for veterans here," he said.

The center would be a place that helps veterans and their families, he said, adding that they're looking at having rooms for individuals and for families. The nonprofit would also have partnerships with community groups that could help provide services the veterans and their families need.

There is a county effort to support this, he added.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, echoed that support.

"What we're trying to do is treat the whole veteran," he said.

Howard, who has been active in trying to build partnerships with those at Fort George G. Meade and bring veterans into the county, said the goal is to have the facility as a way to get more services to people.

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Kay said as of the 2010 census, there were 14,002 veterans in Carroll County. The county has an active caseload of 14 homeless veterans with whom the Veterans Services Program is working. In Fiscal Year 2017, the program served 31 veterans experiencing homelessness, she added.

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