Car dealers in the county and nation are riding out a recession thathas reduced the number of car sales. But that woe hasn't stopped 20 Harford County dealerships from joining a campaign to raise money forthe state's homeless.
For every car that is sold, participating dealers are donating $10 for a raffle ticket in the name of the buyer for a $200,000 house. Cash raised in the raffle will go to Action forthe Homeless, a Baltimore-based group assisting the homeless.
The raffle will take place Oct. 26. A brand new house in Anne Arundel County, built and donated by Ryland Homes, will be given to the winner.
Cathy Lyness, Action for the Homeless director for the Have a Heart for the Homeless raffle program, estimated that $250,000 will be raised statewide. To date, $1,000 has been raised by two Harford car dealers.
Chuck Boyle, owner and general manager of Boyle Buick in Bel Air, which is participating, said, "It won't help increase our sales. It's strictly a contribution on our part. The fact that we're doing it in a down economy is particularly important to note. Thepeople that buy the cars certainly think it's a nice gesture on our part and, of course, they get a chance to win a house."
Boyle and the other Harford dealers participating started buying the raffle tickets at the start of last month.
Wayne Tapscott, co-owner of HarcoOldsmobile-Pontiac-Cadillac in Aberdeen, said, "I would hope we'd have a couple of hundred tickets sold by the time this is over."
Lyness said the money raised in the raffle will be placed in a general fund and used to provide services for the homeless statewide. Two county shelters have applied for money raised by the program.
Joanne Cushing, director of the county homeless program, said she intends to apply for some of the money. She would use the funds to build transitional housing for the homeless.
Cushing said it is hard to determine exactly how many people are homeless in Harford County, but since November she's assisted 75 to 100 people who had no place to live.
Lyness said there are four groups in the county that can assist the homeless with temporary shelter in the county: the Salvation Army in Havre de Grace, the Sexual Assault/ Spouse Abuse Resource Center in Bel Air, Forward Step Inc. in Edgewood and ECCHO House in Street.
Each of those shelters will have the opportunity to apply for the money from the program, Lyness said. She said all the applications will be reviewed and the money will be appropriated to the areas that are deemed most in need. The money will be used for providing shelters, affordable housing, education and job training, she said.
The car dealers' giveaway started when Kay Kline, executive director of sales and marketing at Homestead Publishing, along with other employees, contacted car dealers and solicited their involvement.
Not only has the number of homeless people increased in recent years, Kline said, but more families are becoming homeless as well.
"We're seeing people that are just working poor," she said. "They're working for $5 or $6 an hour and don't have enough for the basic things that we take for granted."
Jim Smith, sales manager for Bel Air Nissan, said mostof the money raised locally probably will be used locally.
"There's a need," he said. "I live down the street from Joanne Cushing and she seems to have her hands full."
Cookie Halle, owner of the Silver Spring developer Halle Cos., donated the Seven Oaks lot and Rylandbuilt the three-bedroom, two-story house that is being raffled. Other businesses contributed to the interior by constructing hardwood floors and shelving for free.
Lyness said other businesses that have contributed to Have a Heart for the Homeless include The Sun, which donated $109,000 worth of advertising, WJZ-TV 13, which donated more than $100,000 in prime-time advertising, and 106.5 FM, which donated $120,000 in advertising.