Robey plans loan to help Grassroots build facility


County Executive James N. Robey announced yesterday that he will submit legislation to lend $1.8 million to begin construction of a new facility for the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and homeless shelter.

The project is expected to cost $5.5 million and would have been delayed without the county loan because some money sources will not be available until after a construction contract is set, said Howard County Director of Finance Sharon Greisz.

"This allows us to move ahead and not wait until [Grassroots] has all their donations on hand," Greisz said.

The county already has pledged $1.5 million and the state government $450,000 to the project, while Grassroots has collected more than $680,000 through fundraising. The social service group also expects $1 million over two years from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Planning for a new 23,000-square-feet, headquarters at its current location near Atholton High School has been in the works for eight years, said Director Andrea Ingram.

"Grassroots was going to attempt to get a commercial bridge loan," Ingram said yesterday. "It's very fortunate the county is going to do this because it would have been very costly and very labor-intensive."

The county will not charge interest on its loan, Greisz said. Although details have not been finalized, a three- to five-year payback plan is being considered.

Ingram said the county government has confidence that Grassroots will be able to repay the $1.8 million loan because it has received pledges for about a third of that money that won't be fully received for three years.

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