As Baltimore embarks on a project aimed at improving the way services are delivered to homeless families, officials learned yesterday that the city could receive an additional $300,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The foundation selected Baltimore last fall as one of nine cities across the country to participate in its Homeless Families Programs and awarded the city $300,000, including 140 vouchers for housing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But yesterday Steven A. Schroeder, president of the foundation, announced that if the participating cities develop effective programs with the initial grants, they will get more money in two years.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest medical philanthropic organization in the United States. It is funded by the personal estate of the late Mr. Johnson, founder of Johnson & Johnson.
Joanne Selinski, head of the Mayor Schmoke's Office on Homelessness, said the city will use the grant to select 150 of Baltimore's most vulnerable homeless families. She said while the clients' most pressing needs would be housing, they might also need mental health services, welfare assistance or help in basic life skills.
Instead of sending the families to several city agencies for such help, each family would be provided one caseworker who would coordinate services for them. Volunteers from the YWCA will also be appointed as mentors for the troubled families.
Selection of the families will begin this spring, Ms. Selinski said.
Representatives from Baltimore and the eight other cities participating in the project are meeting in Baltimore today to discuss their progress. Mayor Schmoke was scheduled to address the group this morning.