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Shelter finds way to stay open


The county's emergency overnight shelter in Westminster, which was in jeopardy of closing Friday because of a lack of funds, will remain open with reduced hours and services, officials said.

The staff at Human Services Programs Inc., the nonprofit agency that runs the shelter, has put together a bare-bones budget of $67,000 to keep the shelter going for another year, said Deputy Directpr Lynda Gainor.

Beginning next week, the shelter will cut back its hours. It will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. weekdays instead of 3 p.m. to 10 a.m., Ms. Gainor said. On weekends, the shelter will be closed.

Ms. Gainor said the shelter was the only public facility open to the homeless on weekends.

"Six-thirty to six-thirty is not adequate, but it gets us by," she said.

The staff at Human Services Programs put together the $67,000 budget by combining portions of state and county money allocated for the overnight shelter in the winter months and the county's men's shelter, which the agency also operates.

The budget covers only the salaries of the shelter staff. It include the cost of linens, towels, coffee, tea and soup -- all of which have been provided to shelter residents.

Human Services Programs may not have to use its scaled-back budget if it receives a federal grant to continue operating the shelter and to expand services. The agency applied for a $1,047,156 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and may learn by the end of the month whether it was approved.

Situated at 540 Washington Road, the shelter serves an average of 15 people each night. It differs from the three other homeless shelters run by Human Services Programs in that residents don't have to meet certain requirements to stay there.

At the other shelters, participants are expected to go to work, to go to school or to obtain drug counseling.

The overnight shelter is the former site of Shoemaker House, the county's residential center for treating addictions. Human Services Programs took over the shelter in November after Shoemaker House moved to a building at the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville.

Originally the shelter was open only during the winter, but Human Services Programs determined that it needed to be open all year.

The county funded the center's operation the past year, but allocated a minimal amount for fiscal 1996, which begins Saturday.

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