A Hamlet for Carroll's Homeless

December 24, 1992

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. There remains a major stumbling block, though: Carroll officials still need to find $680,000 to finance it.

At present, Carroll County does not have enough shelters for its 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 County -- is not long enough for a family to get back on its feet. Sometimes it takes longer to find a job and transportation and to 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 in the hamlet to provide offices and classrooms for the residents. The location of the hamlet 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. Carroll 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. She may not have the funds to do anything else.

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 devised 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.

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