Apartment complex for homeless planned in North Laurel

A North Laurel mobile home park is set to be replaced by a 33-unit apartment complex for the chronically homeless as part of the county's plan to end homelessness.

The Beechcrest Mobile Home Park was purchased by the Howard County Housing Commission in September, according to Tom Carbo, executive director of the commission. County officials have met with residents of the 38-unit park and told them it will close Nov. 15, 2013, Carbo said. The county will provide relocation assistance for those residents, he said.

The commission has scheduled a public meeting on the project for Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, in Laurel.

Plans are to develop the 5.5 acre site into 33 small efficiency apartments that will house one person each. But there are few details beyond that.

"It's in its infancy, conceptual stage," Carbo said.

The Housing Commission purchased the property, located north of Whiskey Bottom Road off Route 1, for $1.6 million from a developer. The location was chosen because of the homeless population along the Route 1 corridor, according to Carbo.

The county's annual Point in Time survey, taken in January 2012, found 230 homeless people living in Howard County, according Lois Mikkila, director of the Department of Citizen Services.

Howard County enacted its Plan to End Homelessness, in 2010.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman called the proposed facility "a big piece of the puzzle," in the county's effort to end homelessness.

He said the project represents a place where the county's homeless can find support and the resources they need to become self-sufficient.

A day resource center, a nonprofit center assisting the chronically homeless, will be located in the facility to serve the needs of the residents and county's homeless population.

Moving forward on implementing the plan, Ulman said the county and its partner agencies would like to keep homeless citizens better informed of where they can go for resources.

"We do a great job here, but I believe we can always do better," he said.

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