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County seeks $15,000 to study need for shelter


The lack of a permanent emergency shelter for the homeless in Harford has caught county elected leaders' attention.

While they aren't moving ahead with building one, they do plan to seek $15,000 in federal money to study the need for a shelter.

The County Council, which passed a resolution Tuesday to seek the grant money, would provide up to $5,000 in services, such as engineering studies and planning.

"Based on preliminary data, we feel there is a need," said Linda Koser, grants specialist for the county's Department of Community Services.

In addition to determining need, Koser said the purpose of the study, which would be paid for with a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant, would be to determine which segment of the homeless population could best be served by an emergency shelter. The study would also offer guidelines for site selection and cost estimates.

Experts say homeless people needing emergency shelter include battered women and children, individuals and entire families.

County officials envision a shelter with 30 to 35 beds. People would be expected to stay at the shelter between 30 and 60 days. During a year, about 330 to 380 people could be served, according to the grant application.

The application says 612 people applied to the Harford County ** Homeless Program seeking emergency shelter during the 1991 fiscal year (July 1, 1990, to June 30, 1991). Through the program, the county tries to arrange hotel accommodations for those in need.

Of those 612 who applied, 186 were school-aged children without a permanent residence.

During that same period, the county's spouse-abuse program provided shelter for 189 battered women and their children. In some cases they were housed outside of Harford County.

Also last week, the council passed a resolution affirming its support for the Columbia-based Enterprise Foundation Inc.'s study of affordable housing in the county.

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