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Cold Weather Shelter program to start in Howard County on Nov. 30

The Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services is partnering with the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center to provide an expanded Cold Weather Shelter program this year. The program begins Nov. 30 and ends March 28.

The shelter, which is usually housed on a rotating basis by county faith communities, was created to help people who are unable to find emergency shelter when the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Columbia is full.

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Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic this year, individuals will be housed in a noncongregate shelter where there will be a cleaning regime in place to reduce the spread of the virus; guests will be offered testing on site, according to a news release.

“These are unique circumstances, and County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services are leading the way in supporting the ‘best practices approach’ to assist individuals facing homelessness during a pandemic,” Grassroots Executive Director Mariana Izraelson said in a statement. “On behalf of our most vulnerable neighbors, we are grateful for this leadership and support.”

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The Department of Community Resources and Services is funding the shelter space for the 17-week program, and Grassroots is funding 24/7 staffing for supervision, case management to complete housing applications, meal delivery and COVID-19 supplies.

County faith communities will provide three meals a day to individuals at the shelter, and Grassroots will oversee delivery service. Other expenses, such as client transportation assistance, Chromebooks and other supplies for students, are supported by donations.

The Cold Weather Shelter program has been operating for 17 years in Howard and typically serves 60 to 80 people in a season, according to the release.

Grassroots, located on Freetown Road, operates Howard County’s only emergency shelter for homeless men, women and families, as well as the Grassroots Day Resource Center.

The nonprofit also operates a 24-hour crisis intervention service, staffed by counselors who field calls to its 24-hour hot line. As part of its crisis intervention services, Grassroots also operates the county’s Mobile Crisis Team, which responds to family emergencies.

For more information on available services, call 410-531-6006 or go to grassrootscrisis.org.

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