Budget cut proposals worry Halethorpe nonprofit providers

Nonprofits in southwest Baltimore County that rely on federal funding have concerns about what could happen if President Donald Trump's wishes for a significantly reduced federal budget become a reality.

"It's just the uncertainty of what this thing's ultimately going to look like is causing the biggest concern," said Carmen Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Halethorpe-based Maryland Food Bank.

Speculation about Meals on Wheels losing funding brings concern to Del Guercio.

There may be additional demand on the food bank's services if the program loses support or goes away. Last year, the nonprofit distributed 41 million meals across the state, he said.

"If they're being cut back, it puts pressure on the entire system," he said.

He said the nonprofit is monitoring the situation.

"The issue doesn't go away," he said. "If there is an inability for Meals on Wheels to serve the level of people it serves today, that person still has a hunger problem."

At Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, based in Halethorpe, CEO Mike Posko said federal money funds about 25 percent of the $5 million raised each year.

Proposed reductions in several programs funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the Community Development Block Grant program and AmeriCorps training, would "significantly impact" the nonprofit if they lose federal support.

The nonprofit builds about 30 homes a year, Posko said, but if there's a reduction of funding, that number will likely decrease. He said that would lead to a trickle-down effect in which skilled laborers, such as plumbers, electricians or heating-and-cooling system technicians, may have fewer jobs.

He said the nonprofit is reaching out to legislators to explain how the federal funds are used, "so they're not assuming it's something we can cut."

State legislators approved a bill that would bill would provide about $2.7 million in state funding for Planned Parenthood, should the group lose access to federal money. The Maryland General Assembly is the the first state legislature to pass a bill that would shield the organization against action by Republicans in Congress, Planned Parenthood said.

The closest Planned Parenthood health centers to southwest Baltimore County are in Baltimore City, Owings Mills and Towson.

A spokeswoman for the governor declined to say whether Gov. Larry Hogan would sign the measure, saying instead that it will be part of a review process along with hundreds of other bills. The measure passed both the House and the Senate with margins large enough that were they to hold, a veto by Hogan could be overridden.

"We're not going to let Donald Trump's agenda disrupt the progress that we've made in Maryland and what we've done to make sure that women have access to quality care from providers that they trust," said Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the Senate version of the bill.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this report.

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