Safe Haven officials seeking county funds to keep shelter open

THE BALTIMORE SUN

With a few months to go before their funding dries up, officials from the Safe Haven shelter went before the county commissioners yesterday in search of more money.

Jolene G. Sullivan, director of the Department of Citizen Services, told commissioners that the shelter, which has a budget of nearly $500,000, will need at least $167,000 from the county to stay open in fiscal 2000, which will begin July 1.

The shelter's three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will end March 31, and the state has given the county permission to transfer $25,000 in state funds from the county mental health director's budget to the shelter to keep it running until the end of June.

Safe Haven is in the Shoemaker House near Carroll County General Hospital in Westminster. It has 25 beds and serves substance abusers and the mentally ill.

"Our biggest dilemma is next year," Sullivan said. "What are we going to do?"

Sullivan said much of the funding will come from the state, with additional in-kind contributions. Carroll County General is donating $31,000 in meals, for example, and the shelter will receive $10,400 in free security from the county sheriff's office. Mission of Mercy Inc. will provide $4,000 in medical and dental services.

The shelter, which served 84 people last year, has sent letters to area churches asking for supplies, she said, and will reapply for HUD funds next year.

"I'm strongly in support of the shelter because there is a need for continuation of services," Eldon Watts, director of the county's Core Service Agency, told the commissioners. "All these folks have serious mental illnesses and are not eligible to go to a hospital because they are not dangerous. Without the shelter, I think we'd see a lot more acting-out in the community."

Next year's budget proposal includes a reduction in security, which is expected to save a little more than $48,000. Instead of having an off-duty state trooper on the premises 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- as is the case now -- a trooper would be on duty weekdays from 4: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 a.m.

Supervision during the remaining hours would be handled by two case managers and a resident assistant.

"I'm a little bit reserved about that," said Sylvia Canon, executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., a nonprofit corporation that operates several homeless programs under contract with the county. "Then we're at the mercy of 911 if something happens." All three commissioners expressed support for the funding, but they won't take formal action until next week at the earliest.

"I feel good about it," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said after the meeting. "There is a need in the community that needs to be met, and then the people can feel comfortable that it's taken care of."

"I have to assume the request is reasonable; it looks like they've done a fair amount of work," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said, adding that the question of security concerns him. "We might extend the sheriff's deputies' hours, not around the clock but stopping in from time to time."

Pub Date: 3/03/99

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