Men's shelter won't open on schedule

November 23, 1990|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

The opening of Baltimore County's first permanent shelter for homeless men has been delayed nearly a month, until late December, because of the complex arrangements necessary to connect water lines to the new house in Rosedale.

The 25-bed home, named Nehemiah House, is in the 8700 block of Philadelphia Road, across the street from Golden Ring Mall near a Beltway entrance ramp.

The problem, contractor Chris Trianfo said, is the complexity of the paperwork needed to connect a city water line under a state highway in Baltimore County. Permits and applications are needed from all three jurisdictions, and traffic must be considered before Philadelphia Road can be dug up for the pipes.

Homeless men now are being housed in a series of county motels until the church-run shelter is ready. The men's shelter is one of two major additions to the county's stock of beds for the homeless.

The YWCA-run Eleanor Corner House shelter for families in Reisterstown is nearly doubling its bed total, from 18 to 33. Work is to be completed there in January, officials said.

A third county shelter, also operated by the YWCA, offers 18 beds in a prefabricated building in the 4000 block of Southwestern Blvd. in Arbutus.

Nehemiah House will be operated by the fundamentalist Rock Church near Towson. Church volunteers will do most of the cleanup after construction and interior painting.

When it opens, the shelter will free the county from a court order imposed in April, requiring it to provide at least 25 beds for homeless men year-round. Baltimore County has been doing that at various motels around the Beltway, since the order was issued in response to a suit by legal-aid lawyers. The suit contended that the county discriminated against homeless men by failing to provide a permanent shelter for them, while providing beds for homeless women and children.

Lois B. Cramer, acting director of the county's housing office, said nearly all the allotted 25 beds are filled nightly now at the various motel locations, with men who come to county social services workers asking for a place to sleep.

Nehemiah House was built with $351,400 in federal block-grant money. A church member donated the land and the beginnings of a garage which was next door to an old, ramshackle frame house that was already housing a few homeless men each night.

Operating funds for the shelter will come from whichever agencies refer homeless men there, and from donations by private parties.

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