Because no one stepped forward to buy the nine houses tha must be removed to accommodate the expansion of the Carroll County Regional Airport, the county is closer to developing one of the state's most innovative transitional housing projects. The problem: The county needs $680,000 to finance it.
At present, Carroll does not have enough shelters for homeless families. Human Services Program, the non-profit group that runs Carroll's homeless shelters, often has to split up families to house them. Sending a mother and her children to one location and the father to another puts additional strain on an already heavily stressed family, social workers point out.
Often, the 12-week stay in a shelter -- the maximum time allowed in Carroll -- is not long enough for a family to get back on its feet. Sometimes it takes longer to find a job and transportation and accumulate enough money for a security deposit and first month's rent on a home.
The proposed "hamlet" of transitional housing for up to 15 families will go a long way toward addressing these problems. As proposed, the houses will be moved from the airport expansion site to a nearby seven-acre site bounded by Littlestown Pike, Krider's Church Road, the Carroll County Association of Retarded Citizen's sheltered workshop and Feeser's Market. There would be a community center that will house offices and classrooms for the residents. The location is convenient to job opportunities at the Airport Business Park, medical offices, day-care centers and markets.
The remaining obstacle to the plan is money. County officials have requested $680,000 from the threadbare state government. Last summer, Housing Secretary Jacqueline Rogers said the project was quite impressive but deftly avoided any commitment, saying her staff needed to review it.
This project represents the best of Carroll County; the coming together of public officials, citizens and professionals volunteering services to fulfill an unmet community need. The parties came up with a creative solution for the homeless.
State officials turned down the county's last grant proposal for homeless shelters. This current proposal deserves to be funded. Constructing these homes will help Carroll assist needy families in getting back on their feet.